bendable (adj.) Look up bendable at
1610s, from bend (v.) + -able.
bended Look up bended at
original past participle of bend (v.), retained after 14c. in certain formal or poetic formulations, especially on bended knee.
bender (n.) Look up bender at
late 15c., "instrument for bending," agent noun from bend (v.). Slang meaning "drinking bout" is American English, attested from 1846, perhaps from the Scottish sense of "a hard drinker" (1728). Perhaps from the verb in the figurative sense of "strain, brace, wind up." Other slang senses included "a sixpence" (1836) "( ? Because it bends easily.)" [OED]; "a leg" (U.S., 1849).
bene- Look up bene- at
sometimes beni-, word-forming element meaning "well," from Latin bene (adv.) "well, in the right way, honorably, properly," from PIE *dwenelo-, suffixed (adverbial) form of root *deu- (2) "to do, perform; show favor, revere." Opposed to mal-. From the same source come Latin bonus "good," bellus "handsome, fine, pretty," and possibly beatus "blessed," beare "to make blessed."
beneath (adv., prep.) Look up beneath at
Old English beneoðan "under, below, in a lower place, further down than," in late Old English "lower in rank, degree, excellence, etc.," from be- "by" + neoðan "below, down, from below," from Proto-Germanic *niþar "lower, farther down, down" (see nether). Meaning "unworthy of" is attested from 1849 (purists prefer below in this sense). "The be- gave or emphasized the notion of 'where,' excluding that of 'whence' pertaining to the simple niðan" [OED].
benedict (n.) Look up benedict at
"newly married man" (especially one who had seemed a confirmed bachelor), 1821, from the character Benedick in "Much Ado About Nothing" (1599). The name is from Late Latin Benedictus, literally "blessed," from Latin benedicte "bless (you)" (see benediction). This also produced the proper name and surname Bennet; hence also benet (late 14c.), the third of the four lesser orders of the Roman Catholic Church, one of whose functions was to exorcize spirits.
Benedictine (n.) Look up Benedictine at
c. 1600, "one of the order known (from the color of its dress) as the Black Monks," founded c.529 at Monte Cassino, in Italy, by St. Benedict (see benedict). With -ine (1).
benediction (n.) Look up benediction at
c. 1400, benediccioun, from Late Latin benedictionem (nominative benedictio), "a blessing," noun of action from benedicere (in classical Latin two words, bene dicere) "to speak well of, bless," from bene "well" (from PIE root *deu- (2) "to do, perform; show favor, revere") + dicere "to say, speak" (from PIE root *deik- "to show," also "pronounce solemnly"). The oldest sense in English is of grace before meat. French re-Latinized its form of the word in 16c.; the older French form, beneiçon passed into Middle English as benison.
benefactor (n.) Look up benefactor at
"one who confers a benefit, a kindly helper," especially "one who endows a charitable institution," mid-15c., from Late Latin benefactor, from Latin phrase bene facere, from bene "well" (see bene-) + facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). Translated in Old English as wel-doend. Also in 15c. benefetour, from Old French bienfaiteur.
benefice (n.) Look up benefice at
c. 1300, "a church living, church office endowed with a revenue," from Old French benefice (13c.) and directly from Latin beneficium "a favor, service, generosity, kindness, benefit," from beneficus "generous, kind, benevolent, obliging," from bene- "good, well" (see bene-) + -ficium "a doing," from -ficere, combining form of facere "to do, to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").
beneficence (n.) Look up beneficence at
"quality of being beneficent, kind, or charitable, practice of doing good," mid-15c., from Latin beneficentia "kindness, generosity," from beneficus "generous, kind, benevolent, obliging," from bene- "good, well" (see bene-) + -ficus "doing," from -ficere, combining form of facere "to do, to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). Related: Beneficency.
beneficent (adj.) Look up beneficent at
1610s, "doing good, charitable through good will," probably from beneficence on model of magnificent, etc. The Latin adjective is beneficus.
beneficial (adj.) Look up beneficial at
mid-15c., "helpful, advantageous, conferring benefit," from Middle French bénéficial and directly from Latin beneficialis "pertaining to a favor," from beneficium "a favor, service, kindness," from beneficus "generous, kind, benevolent, obliging," from bene- "good, well" (see bene-) + -ficus "making, doing," from -ficere, combining form of facere "to do, to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). Related: Beneficially.
beneficiary Look up beneficiary at
1610s (n.) "one who receives profits or advantages," 1620s (adj.) "connected with the receipt of profits or advantages," probably via French bénéficiaire, from Latin beneficiarius "enjoying a favor, privileged," from beneficium "a favor, service, generosity, kindness, benefit," from beneficus "generous, kind, benevolent, obliging," from bene- "good, well" (see bene-) + -ficus, from -ficere, combining form of facere "to do, to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").
benefit (n.) Look up benefit at
late 14c., benefet, "good or noble deed; helpful or friendly action," also "a beneficial thing; advantage, profit," from Anglo-French benfet (Old French bienfait), from Latin benefactum "good deed," from bene facere, from bene "well" (see bene-) + facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). Meaning "public performance or entertainment to raise money for some deserving unfortunate person or charitable cause" is from 1680s.
benefit (v.) Look up benefit at
"do good to, be of service," late 15c., from benefit (n.). Related: Benefited; benefiting.
benefits (n.) Look up benefits at
"financial support (especially for medical expenses) to which one is entitled through employment or membership," 1895, plural of benefit (n.).
Benelux Look up Benelux at
the customs union of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg, formed October 1947.
benevolence (n.) Look up benevolence at
c. 1400, "disposition to do good," from Old French benivolence (Modern French bienveillance) and directly from Latin benevolentia "good feeling, good will, kindness," from bene "well" (see bene-) + volantem (nominative volens) present participle of velle "to wish" (see will (v.)). In English history, this was the name given to forced extra-legal loans or contributions to the crown, first so called 1473 by Edward IV, who cynically "asked" it as a token of good will toward his rule.
benevolent (adj.) Look up benevolent at
mid-15c., "wishing to do good, well-disposed, kindly," from Old French benivolent and directly from Latin benevolentem (nominative benevolens) "wishing (someone) well, benevolent," related to benevolentia "good feeling," from bene "well" (see bene-) + volantem (nominative volens) present participle of velle "to wish" (see will (v.)). Related: Benevolently.
Bengal Look up Bengal at
region in South Asia, named for its people, said to be from Banga, name of a founding chief. It is attested in Europe as far back as Marco Polo (1298), who wrote of Bangala. Related: Bengali; Bengalese.
benight (v.) Look up benight at
1550s, "to be overtaken by darkness;" 1630s, "to involve with darkness," from be- + night. Figurative sense of "to involve in moral or intellectual darkness" is from c. 1600, and the word is rarely used now except in the figurative past participle adjective benighted.
benighted (adj.) Look up benighted at
1570s, "overtaken by darkness," past participle adjective from obsolete verb benight (q.v.). Little used in the literal sense, usually it means "in intellectual or moral darkness" (1630s).
benign (adj.) Look up benign at
early 14c., from Old French benigne "kind, benign, merciful, gracious" (12c., Modern French bénin, fem. bénigne), from Latin benignus "kindly, kindhearted, friendly, generous," literally "well born," from bene "well" (see bene-) + gignere "to bear, beget," from genus "birth" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget"). For similar sense evolution, compare gentle, kind (adj.), generous. Related: Benignly.
benignant (adj.) Look up benignant at
"kind, gracious, favorable," 1739, from benign on model of its opposite, malignant. From 1790 as "exerting a good influence." Related: Benignantly; benignancy.
benignity (n.) Look up benignity at
"goodness of disposition," late 14c., from Old French benignité "goodness, kindness" (12c.), from Latin benignitatem (nominative benignitas) "kindness, friendliness, benevolence," from benignus "kindly, kindhearted" (see benign).
Benin Look up Benin at
former West African kingdom, from the Bini people, whose name is perhaps related to Arabic bani "sons." Though the people now is associated with Nigeria, the name was taken 1974 by the former nation of Dahomey.
benison (n.) Look up benison at
c. 1300, "blessing, beatitude," from Old French beneison, beneiçon "blessing, benediction," from Late Latin benedictionem (see benediction).
Benjamin Look up Benjamin at
masc. proper name, in Old Testament, Jacob's youngest son (Genesis xxxv.18), from Hebrew Binyamin, literally "son of the south," though interpreted in Genesis as "son of the right hand," from ben "son of" + yamin "right hand," also "south" (in an East-oriented culture). Compare Arabic cognate yaman "right hand, right side, south;" yamana "he was happy," literally "he turned to the right."

The right was regarded as auspicious (see left and dexterity). Also see Yemen, southpaw, and compare deasil "rightwise, turned toward the right," from Gaelic deiseil "toward the south; toward the right," from deas "right, right-hand; south." Also compare Sanskrit dakshina "right; south," and Welsh go-gledd "north," literally "left."

In reference to a favorite younger son it is from the story of Jacob's family in Genesis. With familiar forms Benjy, Benny. Slang meaning "money" (by 1999) is from the portrait of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin on U.S. $100 bill. In some old uses in herb-lore, etc., it is a folk-etymology corruption of benzoin.
bent (adj.) Look up bent at
"not straight, curved like a strung bow," late 14c. (earlier ibent, c. 1300), from past participle of bend (v.). Meaning "turned or inclined in some direction" is from 1530s, probably as a translation of Latin inclinatio. Meaning "directed in a course" is from 1690s.

Used throughout 20c. in various slang and underworld senses: "criminal; illegal; stolen; corrupted; broken; insane; homosexual;" compare slang uses of crooked. Figurative phrase bent out of shape "extremely upset" is 1960s U.S. Air Force and college student slang.
bent (n.2) Look up bent at
"stiff grass," Old English beonet (attested only in place names), from West Germanic *binut- "rush, marsh grass" (source also of Old Saxon binet, Old High German binuz, German Binse "rush, reed"), which is of unknown origin. An obsolete word, but surviving in place names (such as Bentley, from Old English Beonet-leah; and Bentham).
The verdure of the plain lies buried deep
Beneath the dazzling deluge; and the bents,
And coarser grass, upspearing o'er the rest,
Of late unsightly and unseen, now shine
Conspicuous, and, in bright apparel clad
And fledg'd with icy feathers, nod superb.

[Cowper, "The Winter-Morning Walk," from "The Task"]
bent (n.1) Look up bent at
"mental inclination, natural state of the mind as disposed toward something," 1570s, probably from earlier literal sense "condition of being deflected or turned" (1530s), from bent (adj.) "not straight" (q.v.).
benthos (n.) Look up benthos at
"life forms of the deep ocean and sea floor," 1891, coined by Haeckel from Greek benthos "depth of the sea," which is related to bathos "depth," bathys "deep, high;" which probably is Indo-European but of unknown origin. Adjective benthal is attested from 1877; benthic is attested from 1902.
benumb (v.) Look up benumb at
"deprive of sensation," late 15c., from be- + numb. Originally of mental states; of the physical body from 1520s. Related: Benumbed; benumbing.
benzaldehyde (n.) Look up benzaldehyde at
1866, from German benzaldehyd; see benzene + aldehyde.
Benzedrine (n.) Look up Benzedrine at
trade name of a type of amphetamine, 1933, registered as a proprietary name 1935 by Smith, Kline & French Laboratories, from benzoic (see benzene) + chemical suffix -edrine from ephedrine, etc. It is a carbonate of benzyl-methyl-carbinamine. Slang shortening benny first attested 1955.
benzene (n.) Look up benzene at
clear, colorless liquid used as a solvent, 1835, benzine, altered from German Benzin, coined in 1833 by German chemist Eilhardt Mitscherlich (1794-1863) from Benz(oesäure) "benzoic acid" + -in, indicating "derived from" (see -ine (2)). Mitscherlich obtained it from a distillation of benzoic acid, obtained from benzoin. The form benzene (with hydrocarbon suffix -ene) was proposed in 1835 and began to be used from 1838 in English, but in mid-19c. it also commonly was called benzol with ending from alcohol.
benzine (n.) Look up benzine at
original name of benzene (q.v.). By 1864 as the name of a different substance, a colorless liquid obtained from the distillation of petroleum.
benzo- Look up benzo- at
word-forming element in chemistry, from benzene.
benzodiazepine (n.) Look up benzodiazepine at
1934, from benzo-, word-forming element used in chemistry to indicate presence of a benzene ring fused with another ring, + di + azo- + epine, a suffix denoting a seven-membered ring, from Greek hepta (see seven).
benzoic (adj.) Look up benzoic at
"pertaining to or obtained from benzoin, 1790, from benzoin + -ic.
benzoin (n.) Look up benzoin at
balsamic resin obtained from a tree (Styrax benzoin) of Indonesia, 1560s (earlier as bengewine, 1550s), from Middle French benjoin (16c.), which comes via Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian from Arabic luban jawi "incense of Java" (actually Sumatra, but the Arabs confused the two), with lu probably mistaken in Romance languages for a definite article. The English form with -z- is perhaps from influence of Italian benzoi (Venetian, 1461).
Beowulf Look up Beowulf at
Old English beo wulf, literally "bee-wolf," "a wolf to bees;" a kenning for "bear." See bee (n.) + wolf (n.).
bepester (v.) Look up bepester at
"plague, harass," c. 1600, from be- + pester (v.). Related: Bepestered; bepestering.
bepuzzle (v.) Look up bepuzzle at
"perplex," 1590s, from be- + puzzle (v.). Related: Bepuzzled; bepuzzling.
bequeath (v.) Look up bequeath at
Old English becweðan "to say, speak to, exhort, blame," also "leave by will;" from be- + cweðan "to say," from Proto-Germanic *kwithan, from PIE root *gwet- "to say, speak." The simple verb became obsolete, but its old, strong past tense survived through Middle English as quoth.

Original sense of "say, utter" died out 13c., leaving the word with only the legal sense of "transfer by legacy." Compare bequest. "An old word kept alive in wills" [OED 1st ed.]. Old English bequeðere meant "interpreter, translator." Related: Bequeathed; bequeathing.
bequest (n.) Look up bequest at
c. 1300, "act of bequeathing," from be- + *cwis, *cwiss "saying" (related to quoth), from Proto-Germanic *kwessiz, from PIE root *gwet- "to say, speak." Compare bequeath). With unetymological -t (as in behest). Meaning "legacy, that which is bequeathed" is recorded from late 15c.
berate (v.) Look up berate at
"to scold vehemently," 1540s, from be- "thoroughly" + Middle English rate "to scold" (late 14c.), from Old French reter "accuse, blame," from Latin reputare "reflect upon, reckon, count over," from re- "repeatedly" (see re-) + putare "to judge, suppose, believe, suspect," originally "to clean, trim, prune" (from PIE root *pau- (2) "to cut, strike, stamp"). "Obsolete except in U.S." [OED 1st ed.], but it seems to have revived in Britain 20c. Related: Berated; berating.
Berber Look up Berber at
1820 (n.); 1832 (adj.), from the Arabic name for the peoples living in the mountains and deserts of North Africa west of Egypt; perhaps ultimately from Greek barbaros "barbarians" (see Barbary). By 1854 as the name of their Hamitic language.
berceuse (n.) Look up berceuse at
"lullaby, cradle song," 1860, from French berceuse "cradle-song, woman who rocks an infant," from bercer "to rock" (Old French bercier "to rock" a child in a cradle, 12c.) + fem. agent suffix -euse.