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[bih-kweeth, -kweeth]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to dispose of (personal property, especially money) by last will: She bequeathed her half of the company to her niece.
  2. to hand down; pass on.
  3. Obsolete. to commit; entrust.
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Origin of bequeath

before 1000; Middle English bequethen, Old English becwethan (be- be- + cwethan to say (see quoth), cognate with Old High German quedan, Gothic qithan)
Related formsbe·queath·a·ble, adjectivebe·queath·al, be·queath·ment, nounbe·queath·er, nounun·be·queath·a·ble, adjectiveun·be·queathed, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for bequeath

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • In other words, they bequeath us a treasure which we are free to enrich with our own discoveries.

  • The father was even able to bequeath his unmarried daughters by will.

    The Truth About Woman

    C. Gasquoine Hartley

  • Temple women often adopt orphans, to whom they bequeath their possessions.

    Lotus Buds

    Amy Carmichael

  • Let parents, then, bequeath to their children not a heap of riches, but the spirit of reverence.



  • I bequeath him to you who already have done so much for him.

    The Lion's Skin

    Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for bequeath


verb (tr)
  1. law to dispose of (property, esp personal property) by willCompare devise (def. 2)
  2. to hand down; pass on, as to following generations
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Derived Formsbequeather, nounbequeathal, noun

Word Origin

Old English becwethan; related to Old Norse kvetha to speak, Gothic qithan, Old High German quethan
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 bequeath


Old English becweðan "to say, speak to, exhort, blame," also "leave by will;" from be- + cweðan "to say," from Proto-Germanic *kwithan, from PIE *gwet- "to say, speak."

Original sense of "say, utter" died out 13c., leaving legal sense of "transfer by will." Closely related to bequest. "An old word kept alive in wills" [OED 1st ed.]. Old English bequeðere meant "interpreter, translator." Related: Bequeathed; bequeathing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper