[bih-kweeth, -kweeth]

verb (used with object)

to dispose of (personal property, especially money) by last will: She bequeathed her half of the company to her niece.
to hand down; pass on.
Obsolete. to commit; entrust.

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

Synonyms for bequeath Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bequeathed

Contemporary Examples of bequeathed

Historical Examples of bequeathed

  • His father had been dead for some time, and had bequeathed his interest in the case to him!


    Scian Dubh

  • A confessor was sent for, and he bequeathed his kingdom to his son Henry.

  • Ziska bequeathed his skin to be used as a drum to inspire the valour of the Bohemians.


    Samuel Smiles

  • Confidence cannot be compelled; it cannot be bequeathed—or, at most, only to a very limited extent.

    High Finance

    Otto H. Kahn

  • Is it credible that the possessions of the spirit can be bequeathed at all?

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

British Dictionary definitions for bequeathed


verb (tr)

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

Word Origin for bequeath

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 bequeathed



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper