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  1. manner of behaving or acting.
  2. Psychology, Animal Behavior.
    1. observable activity in a human or animal.
    2. the aggregate of responses to internal and external stimuli.
    3. a stereotyped, species-specific activity, as a courtship dance or startle reflex.
  3. Often behaviors. a behavior pattern.
  4. the action or reaction of any material under given circumstances: the behavior of tin under heat.
Also especially British, be·hav·iour.

Origin of behavior

1375–1425; behave + -ior (on model of havior, variant of havor < Middle French (h)avoirLatin habēre to have); replacing late Middle English behavoure, behaver. See behave, -or1
Related formsbe·hav·ior·al, adjectivebe·hav·ior·al·ly, adverbin·ter·be·hav·ior, nounin·ter·be·hav·ior·al, adjectivein·ter·be·hav·ior·al·ly, adverb

Synonyms for behavior

See more synonyms for on
1. demeanor, manners; bearing, carriage.

Synonym study

1. Behavior, conduct, deportment, comportment refer to one's actions before or toward others, especially on a particular occasion. Behavior refers to actions usually measured by commonly accepted standards: His behavior at the party was childish. Conduct refers to actions viewed collectively, especially as measured by an ideal standard: Conduct is judged according to principles of ethics. Deportment is behavior related to a code or to an arbitrary standard: Deportment is guided by rules of etiquette. The teacher gave Susan a mark of B in deportment. Comportment is behavior as viewed from the standpoint of one's management of one's own actions: His comportment was marked by a quiet assurance. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Contemporary Examples of behavioral

Historical Examples of behavioral

Word Origin and History for behavioral

1927, in psychology, from behavior + -al (1).



late 15c., essentially from behave, but with ending from Middle English havour "possession," a word altered (by influence of have) from aver, noun use of Old French verb aveir "to have."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

behavioral in Medicine


  1. The actions or reactions of persons or things in response to external or internal stimuli.
  2. The manner in which one behaves.
Related formsbe•havior•al adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

behavioral in Science


  1. The actions displayed by an organism in response to its environment.
  2. One of these actions. Certain animal behaviors (such as nest building) result from instinct, while others (such as hunting) must be learned.
  3. The manner in which a physical system, such as a gas, subatomic particle, or ecosystem, acts or functions, especially under specified conditions.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with behavioral


see on one's best behavior.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.