bechance

[ bih-chans, -chahns ]
/ bɪˈtʃæns, -ˈtʃɑns /

verb (used with or without object), be·chanced, be·chanc·ing.Archaic.

to befall.

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Origin of bechance

First recorded in 1520–30; from phrase by chance
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does bechance mean?

Bechance is an archaic word meaning to happen to (someone) or to occur, especially by fate or chance.

When a word is labeled as archaic in a dictionary, it means that it was commonly used in an earlier time but is rare in present-day usage (except when used to mimic an older style, such as in a historical novel).

Bechance can be used with an object (as in troubles will bechance you) or without an object (as in I cannot explain the events that bechanced).

Example: He feared that misfortune would bechance him if he stayed in the city, so he fled to the country in hopes of a change.

Where does bechance come from?

The first records of the word bechance in English come from the 1520s. Back then, it was used much more commonly. Today, bechance is considered archaic, and it is rarely used, unless you’re trying to sound like Shakespeare (who used it multiple times in his works).

For that reason, bechance is a word that feels really out of place in our current language—kind of like forsooth or wherefore. While bechance has the same meaning as befall, befall is much more commonly used, especially in journalism (often as a short substitute for happen to, as in when tragedy befalls a community).

Relatedly, the word chance can be a verb meaning “to happen or occur by chance,” but this is somewhat rarely used. More commonly, the phrase chance upon is used to mean “to come across by chance.”

To review: It may bechance that you chance upon bechance by chance, but the chances that this will bechance you are small.

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What are some synonyms for bechance?

What are some words that share a root or word element with bechance

 

How is bechance used in real life?

Bechance is most often used to give the effect of a literary style from olden times.

 

 

Try using bechance!

Is bechance used correctly in the following sentence?

She doesn’t know all that bechanced her family before their departure, but she knows it was bad enough to make them leave.

British Dictionary definitions for bechance

bechance
/ (bɪˈtʃɑːns) /

verb

(intr) archaic to happen (to)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012