1. an authoritative order : command;
2. an urgent prompting.

1. At the manager’s behest, several of us stayed to work late so that we could finish the project ahead of the deadline.
2. “They say the constitutional separation of powers blocks the panel—created at the governor’s behest—from policing the legislative branch.” — From an editorial in The New York Post, November 29, 2013.

Today’s word first appeared in 12th century Old English as “beh?s,” which is formed from the prefix “be-” and the Old English verb “hatan” (“to command” or “to promise”). While “behest” was originally used only in the sense of “promise,” it acquired the additional sense of “command” among speakers of Middle English. Among contemporary English speakers, “behest” is no longer used in the sense of “promise” but rather denotes an authoritative or urgent request or command. Old English “hatan” also gave English the now-archaic words “hest” (meaning “command”) and “hight” (“being called or named”).

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  • January 8, 2014
  • Word

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