beckon (v.) Look up beckon at
Old English gebecnian (West Saxon beacnian) "to make a mute sign," derivative of beacen "a sign, beacon," from Proto-Germanic *bauknjan (source also of Old Saxon boknian, Old High German bouhnen), from PIE root *bha- (1) "to shine" (see beacon). Related: Beckoned; beckoning. The noun is attested from 1718, from the verb.
becloud (v.) Look up becloud at
1590s, from be- + cloud. Figurative sense of "to obscure" is recorded from 1610s. Related: Beclouded; beclouding.
become (v.) Look up become at
Old English becuman "happen, come about," also "meet with, arrive," from Proto-Germanic *bikweman "become" (source also of Dutch bekomen, Old High German biqueman "obtain," German bekommen, Gothic biquiman). A compound of be- and come; it drove out Old English weorðan. Meaning "to look well" is early 14c., from earlier sense of "to agree with, be fitting" (early 13c.).
becoming (adj.) Look up becoming at
"looking well," 1560s, from earlier sense of "fitting" (early 13c.), from present participle of become. Related: Becomingly; becomingness.
bed (n.) Look up bed at
Old English bedd "bed, couch, resting place, garden plot," from Proto-Germanic *badjam "sleeping place dug in the ground" (source also of Old Frisian, Old Saxon bed, Middle Dutch bedde, Old Norse beðr, Old High German betti, German Bett, Gothic badi "bed"), from PIE root *bhedh- "to dig, pierce" (source also of Hittite beda- "to pierce, prick," Greek bothyros "pit," Latin fossa "ditch," Lithuanian bedre "to dig," Breton bez "grave"). Both "sleeping" and "gardening" senses are in Old English. Meaning "bottom of a lake, sea, watercourse" is from 1580s.
bed (v.) Look up bed at
Old English beddian "to provide with a bed or lodgings," from bed (n.). From c. 1300 as "to go to bed," also "to copulate with, to go to bed with;" 1440 as "to lay out (land) in plots or beds." Related: Bedded; bedding.
bed-clothes (n.) Look up bed-clothes at
also bedclothes, late 14c., from bed (n.) + clothes.
bed-rest (n.) Look up bed-rest at
"device for sitting up in bed," by 1836; as "a resting in bed for recovery from injury or illness," by 1896; from bed (n.) + rest (n.).
bed-roll (n.) Look up bed-roll at
1905, from bed (n.) + roll (n.).
bed-sore (n.) Look up bed-sore at
"gangrene caused by anemia due to continued pressure," 1833, from bed (n.) + sore (n.)
bed-wetting (n.) Look up bed-wetting at
1844, from bed (n.) + present participle of wet (v.). Related: Bed-wetter.
bedaub (v.) Look up bedaub at
1550s, from be- + daub (v). Related: Bedaubed; bedaubing.
bedazzle (v.) Look up bedazzle at
1590s, from be- + dazzle (v.). Related: Bedazzled; bedazzling.
bedbug (n.) Look up bedbug at
also bed-bug, 1772, from bed (n.) + bug (n.).
[The bed bug] is supposed to have been first introduced to this country in the fir timber that was brought over to rebuild London after it had suffered by the great fire; for it is generally said that Bugs were not known in England before that time, and many of them were found almost immediately afterwards in the new-built houses. [the Rev. W. Bingley, "Animal Biography; or Anecdotes of the Lives, Manners, and Economy of the Animal Creation," London, 1803]
bedchamber (n.) Look up bedchamber at
also bed-chamber, mid-14c., from bed (n.) + chamber.
bedding (n.) Look up bedding at
later Old English beddinge "bedding, bed covering," from bed. Meaning "bottom layer of anything" is from c. 1400.
bedeck (v.) Look up bedeck at
1560s, from be- + deck (v.). Related: Bedecked; bedecking.
bedevil (v.) Look up bedevil at
1768, "to treat diabolically, abuse," from be- + verbal use of devil (q.v.). Meaning "to mischievously confuse" is from 1755; that of "to drive frantic" is from 1823. Related: Bedeviled (1570s, in a literal sense, "possessed"); bedeviling.
bedevilment (n.) Look up bedevilment at
1825, from bedevil + -ment.
bedfellow (n.) Look up bedfellow at
"close friend, roommate," mid-15c., from bed (n.) + fellow (n.). Also (late 15c) "concubine." Earlier in the "close companion" sense was bed-fere (early 14c.). Bedsister "husband's concubine" is recorded in Middle English (c. 1300).
bedight (v.) Look up bedight at
"equip, furnish," c. 1400, from be- + dight (q.v.). Related: Bedighted; bedighting.
bedim (v.) Look up bedim at
1560s, from be- + dim (adj.). Related: Bedimmed; bedimming.
bedizen (v.) Look up bedizen at
1660s, from be- + dizen "to dress" (1610s), especially, from late 18c., "to dress finely, adorn," originally "to dress (a distaff) for spinning" (1520s), and evidently the verbal form of the first element in distaff.
It is remarkable that neither the vb., nor the sb. as a separate word, has been found in OE. or ME., and that on the other hand no vb. corresponding to dizen is known in L.G. or Du. [OED]
bedlam (n.) Look up bedlam at
"scene of mad confusion," 1660s, from colloquial pronunciation of "Hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem" in London, founded 1247 as a priory, mentioned as a hospital 1330 and as a lunatic hospital 1402; converted to a state lunatic asylum on dissolution of the monasteries in 1547. It was spelled Bedlem in a will from 1418, and Betleem is recorded as a spelling of Bethlehem in Judea from 971.
Bedouin (n.) Look up Bedouin at
c. 1400, from Old French bedüin (Modern French bédouin), from colloquial Arabic badawin "desert-dwellers," plural of badawi, from badw "desert, camp." The Arabic plural suffix was mistaken for part of the word. A word from the Crusades, it probably was lost in English and then reborrowed from French c. 1600. As an adjective from 1844.
bedpan (n.) Look up bedpan at
also bed-pan, 1580s, from bed (n.) + pan (n.).
bedpost (n.) Look up bedpost at
also bed-post, 1590s, from bed (n.) + post (n.1).
bedraggle (v.) Look up bedraggle at
1727, from be- + draggle, frequentative of drag.
bedraggled (adj.) Look up bedraggled at
1727, past participle adjective from bedraggle.
bedridden (adj.) Look up bedridden at
also bed-ridden, mid-14c., from adjectival use of late Old English bæddrædæn "bedridden (man)," from bedrid, from Old English bedreda, literally "bedrider, bedridden (man)," from bed + rida "rider" (see ride (v.)). Originally a noun, it became an adjective in Middle English and acquired an -en on the analogy of past participle adjectives from strong verbs such as ride.
bedrock (n.) Look up bedrock at
also bed-rock, 1850, from bed (n.) + rock (n.). Figurative use by 1869; as an adjective by 1881.
bedroom (n.) Look up bedroom at
also bed-room, 1610s, from bed (n.) + room. Slightly earlier in a sense "sleeping space" (1580s). Replaced earlier bedchamber (late 14c.). First record of slang bedroom eyes is from 1901.
bedside (n.) Look up bedside at
late 14c., from bed (n.) + side. Bedside manner attested from 1869.
bedspread (n.) Look up bedspread at
also bed-spread, 1845, American English, from bed (n.) + spread (n.).
bedstead (n.) Look up bedstead at
c. 1400, from bed (n.) + stead; strictly "the place occupied by a bed," but usually "raised stand on which a bed sits."
bedtime (n.) Look up bedtime at
also bed-time, early 13c., from bed (n.) + time (n.). Bed-time story attested from 1867.
bee (n.) Look up bee at
stinging insect, Old English beo "bee," from Proto-Germanic *bion (source also of Old Norse by, Old High German bia, Middle Dutch bie), possibly from PIE root *bhi- "quiver." Used metaphorically for "busy worker" since 1530s.

Sense of "meeting of neighbors to unite their labor for the benefit of one of their number," 1769, American English, probably is from comparison to the social activity of the insect; this was extended to other senses (such as spelling bee, first attested 1809; Raising-bee (1814) for building construction, logging-bee for a log-rolling; also hanging bee "a lynching"). To have a bee in (one's) bonnet (1825), said of one who is harebrained or has an intense new notion or fancy, is said in Jamieson to be Scottish, perhaps from earlier expressions such as head full of bees (1510s), denoting mad mental activity.
bee's knees (n.) Look up bee's knees at
1923, a survivor of a fad around this year for slang terms denoting "excellence" and based on animal anatomy. Also existed in the more ribald form bee's nuts. Other versions that lasted through the century are cat's whiskers (1923), cat's pajamas, cat's meow. More obscure examples are canary's tusks, cat's nuts and flea's eyebrows. The fad still had a heartbeat in Britain at the end of the century, as attested by the appearance of dog's bollocks in 1989. Bee's knee was used as far back as 1797 for "something insignificant."
bee-sting (n.) Look up bee-sting at
1680s, from bee + sting (n.). Related: Bee-stung, which, of lips, is attested by 1845.
Beeb (n.) Look up Beeb at
colloquial shortening of B.B.C., attested from 1967.
beech (n.) Look up beech at
Old English bece "beech," from Proto-Germanic *bokjon (source also of Old Norse bok, Dutch beuk, Flemish boek, Old High German buohha, German Buche, Middle Dutch boeke "beech"), from PIE root *bhagos "beech tree" (cognate with Greek phegos "oak," Latin fagus "beech;" see fagus).

Formerly with adjectival form beechen. Also see book (n.).
beef (n.) Look up beef at
c. 1300, from Old French buef "ox; beef; ox hide" (11c., Modern French boeuf), from Latin bovem (nominative bos, genitive bovis) "ox, cow," from PIE root *gwou- "cow, ox, bull" (see cow (n.)). Original plural was beeves.
beef (v.) Look up beef at
"to complain," slang, 1888, American English, from noun meaning "complaint" (1880s). The noun meaning "argument" is recorded from 1930s. The origin and signification are unclear; perhaps it traces to the common late 19c. complaint of U.S. soldiers about the quantity or quality of beef rations.
beef up (v.) Look up beef up at
"add strength," 1941, from college slang, from beef (n.) in slang sense of "muscle-power" (1851).
beefcake (n.) Look up beefcake at
by 1952, "display of male pulchritude" in movies or magazines; said to have been modeled on cheesecake, but there seems to have been an actual foodstuff called beefcake around this time. The word seems to be little used in that literal sense since the other sense emerged.
beefeater (n.) Look up beefeater at
"warder of the Tower of London," 1670s, a contemptuous reference to well-fed servants of the royal household; the notion is of "one who eats another's beef" (see eater, and compare Old English hlaf-æta "servant," literally "loaf-eater").
beefsteak (n.) Look up beefsteak at
also beef-steak, 1711, from beef (n.) + steak.
beefy (adj.) Look up beefy at
"brawny," 1743, from beef (n.) in colloquial extended sense "human muscle" + -y (2). Related: Beefiness.
beehive (n.) Look up beehive at
early 14c., from bee + hive (n.). As the name of a hairstyle, attested from 1960 (the style itself said to be popular from 1958). As the name of a star cluster in the constellation Cancer, from 1840 (see Praesepe).
beek (v.) Look up beek at
"to bask in the warmth" of something, early 13c., a northern and Scottish word of unknown origin; perhaps ultimately connected to bake (v.).