verb (used with object), be·held, be·hold·ing.

to observe; look at; see.


look; see: And, behold, three sentries of the King did appear.

Origin of behold

before 900; Middle English beholden, Old English behaldan to keep. See be-, hold1
Related formsbe·hold·a·ble, adjectivebe·hold·er, nounun·be·hold·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms for behold

1. regard, gaze upon, view; watch; discern. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for beholder

observer, viewer, watcher, spectator, eyewitness, onlooker

Examples from the Web for beholder

Contemporary Examples of beholder

Historical Examples of beholder

  • The Eastern end of the Cathedral does not impress the beholder.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • He is a beholder of ideas and an utterer of the necessary and causal.

    Essays, Second Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • The metamorphosis excites in the beholder an emotion of joy.

    Essays, Second Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Any beholder would imagine that she was alive, and not dead.

  • It gave him a roguish—almost boyish—effect most appealing to the beholder.


    Edna Ferber

British Dictionary definitions for beholder


verb -holds, -holding or -held (often used in the imperative to draw attention to something) archaic, or literary

to look (at); observe
Derived Formsbeholder, noun

Word Origin for behold

Old English bihealdan; related to Old High German bihaltan, Dutch behouden; see be-, hold
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 beholder

late 14c., agent noun from behold.



Old English bihaldan (West Saxon behealdan) "give regard to, hold in view," also "to keep hold of, to belong to," from be- + haldan, healdan (see hold). Related: Beheld; beholding. A common West Germanic compound, cf. Old Saxon bihaldan "hold, keep," Old Frisian bihalda, Old High German bihaltan, German behalten, but "[t]he application to watching, looking, is confined to English" [OED].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper