verb (used without object), be·haved, be·hav·ing.
  1. to act in a particular way; conduct or comport oneself or itself: The ship behaves well.
  2. to act properly: Did the child behave?
  3. to act or react under given circumstances: This plastic behaves strangely under extreme heat or cold.
verb (used with object), be·haved, be·hav·ing.
  1. to conduct or comport (oneself) in a proper manner: Sit quietly and behave yourself.

Origin of behave

1400–50; late Middle English behaven (reflexive). See be-, have
Related formsun·be·hav·ing, adjectivewell-be·haved, adjective

Synonyms for behave

1. perform, acquit oneself, deport oneself. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for behaved

react, perform, operate, act, manage, work, run, take, control, direct

Examples from the Web for behaved

Contemporary Examples of behaved

Historical Examples of behaved

  • Early in the afternoon her uncle came, and behaved to her very kindly.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Sidney's heart, considering what was happening to it, behaved very well.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Yet they behaved with Oriental composure and calmly accepted the inevitable.

  • She had behaved as coolly as if she had been in a dining-room and he had been completely clothed.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • They behaved precisely as if I had a girl in tow and wanted to be left alone.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

British Dictionary definitions for behaved


  1. (intr) to act or function in a specified or usual way
  2. to conduct (oneself) in a specified wayhe behaved badly towards her
  3. to conduct (oneself) properly or as desiredthe child behaved himself all day

Word Origin for behave

C15: see be-, have
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

Word Origin and History for behaved



early 15c., from be- intensive prefix + have in sense of "to have or bear (oneself) in a particular way, comport" (cf. German sich behaben, French se porter). Cognate Old English compound behabban meant "to contain," and alternatively the modern sense of behave might have evolved from behabban via a notion of "self-restraint." Related: Behaved; behaving.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper