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

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

British Dictionary definitions for unbeholden


  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 unbeholden



"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