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Origin of beholden

1300–50; Middle English, adj. use of beholden, old past participle of behold
Related formsun·be·hold·en, adjective

Synonyms for beholden

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obliged, bound, grateful, liable. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for beholden

obliged, obligated, grateful, owing, bound, into, responsible

Examples from the Web for beholden

Contemporary Examples of beholden

Historical Examples of beholden

  • Then, sinking before him in a deep courtesy, "I am beholden to you," she said.

  • You may be assured, that I will sooner be beholden to you, than to any body living.

    Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • Twice have I been beholden to you for my life, and now I am in your debt.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

  • He thought he was a strong man again, with his children about him, and beholden to no one.

  • "There's not a man of you who is not beholden to Parson Christian," said Hugh, sternly.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

British Dictionary definitions for beholden


  1. indebted; obliged; under a moral obligation

Word Origin for beholden

Old English behealden, past participle of behealdan to behold
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 beholden

"under obligation," mid-14c., originally past participle of behold (and preserving the original past participle of hold), but a sense directly related to this usage is not recorded among the many and varied meanings attested for behold.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper