be

To be is to exist, or to take place. As Hamlet best put it: "To be or not to be, that is the question."

The verb be is one of the most frequently used words in English, and it often takes the form of am, are, were, or was. When you make plans to meet someone later, you could say, "I'll be on the steps in front of the library," and when you talk about your goals, you might confess, "I want to be a movie star." It's a verb with a complicated history, stemming mainly from the Old English bēon, "be, exist, or happen."

Definitions of be
  1. verb
    have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun)
    “John is rich”
    “This is not a good answer”
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    look
    have a certain outward or facial expression
    hurt, suffer
    feel pain or be in pain
    be well
    be healthy; feel good
    suffer
    feel unwell or uncomfortable
    feel
    be conscious of a physical, mental, or emotional state
    remain, rest, stay
    stay the same; remain in a certain state
    continue
    exist over a prolonged period of time
    coruscate, scintillate, sparkle
    be lively or brilliant or exhibit virtuosity
    bedevil, befuddle, confound, confuse, discombobulate, fox, fuddle, throw
    be confusing or perplexing to; cause to be unable to think clearly
    rank
    take or have a position relative to others
    point
    be positionable in a specified manner
    need, require, want
    have need of
    compact, pack
    have the property of being packable or of compacting easily
    rest
    not move; be in a resting position
    cut
    allow incision or separation
    boil, seethe
    be in an agitated emotional state
    moon about, moon around, mope
    be apathetic, gloomy, or dazed
    appear, look, seem
    give a certain impression or have a certain outward aspect
    appear, seem
    seem to be true, probable, or apparent
    owe
    be in debt
    belong
    be owned by; be in the possession of
    cover
    be sufficient to meet, defray, or offset the charge or cost of
    represent
    be representative or typical for
    account
    be the sole or primary factor in the existence, acquisition, supply, or disposal of something
    cut across
    be contrary to ordinary procedure or limitations
    begin, start
    have a beginning characterized in some specified way
    begin
    have a beginning, of a temporal event
    stand
    be in some specified state or condition
    define, delimit, delimitate, delineate, specify
    determine the essential quality of
    go
    be or continue to be in a certain condition
    add up, make sense
    be reasonable or logical or comprehensible
    comprise, consist
    be composed of
    prove, turn out, turn up
    be shown or be found to be
    account for
    be the reason or explanation for
    remain
    be left; of persons, questions, problems, results, evidence, etc.
    adhere, stand by, stick, stick by
    be loyal to
    footle, hang around, lallygag, linger, loaf, loiter, lollygag, lounge, lurk, mess about, mill about, mill around, tarry
    be about
    add up, amount, come, number, total
    add up in number or quantity
    count, matter, weigh
    have weight; have import, carry weight
    rate
    be worthy of or have a certain rating
    deserve, merit
    be worthy or deserving
    buy
    be worth or be capable of buying
    shine
    be clear and obvious
    fall
    be due
    depend
    be contingent upon (something that is elided)
    underlie
    be or form the base for
    stink
    be extremely bad in quality or in one's performance
    suck
    be inadequate or objectionable
    delimit, subtend
    be opposite to; of angles and sides, in geometry
    body forth, embody, incarnate, substantiate
    represent in bodily form
    contain, hold, take
    be capable of holding or containing
    cost
    be priced at
    measure
    have certain dimensions
    buzz, hum, seethe
    be noisy with activity
    abound
    be abundant or plentiful; exist in large quantities
    disaccord, disagree, discord
    be different from one another
    gape, yaw, yawn
    be wide open
    be given, incline, lean, run, tend
    have a tendency or disposition to do or be something; be inclined
    go, run
    have a particular form
    enter, figure
    be or play a part of or in
    press
    be urgent
    rage
    be violent; as of fires and storms
    interrelate, relate
    be in a relationship with
    rut
    be in a state of sexual excitement; of male mammals
    stagnate
    cease to flow; stand without moving
    stagnate
    stand still
    come in handy
    be useful for a certain purpose
    squat
    be close to the earth, or be disproportionately wide
    hoodoo
    bring bad luck; be a source of misfortune
    impend
    be imminent or about to happen
    range, run
    change or be different within limits
    continue, remain, stay, stay on
    continue in a place, position, or situation
    sell
    be sold at a certain price or in a certain way
    translate
    be translatable, or be translatable in a certain way
    head, head up
    be the first or leading member of (a group) and excel
    come in for
    be subject to or the object of
    compare
    be comparable
    come, fall
    come under, be classified or included
    encounter, run into
    be beset by
    gravitate
    be attracted to
    pay
    be worth it
    diverge
    have no limits as a mathematical series
    shine
    be distinguished or eminent
    iridesce
    be iridescent
    lie
    be and remain in a particular state or condition
    stand
    occupy a place or location, also metaphorically
    hang
    be menacing, burdensome, or oppressive
    litter
    strew
    suit
    be agreeable or acceptable
    end, terminate
    be the end of; be the last or concluding part of
    fit
    conform to some shape or size
    lend
    have certain characteristics of qualities for something; be open or vulnerable to
    let go
    be relaxed
    belong
    be rightly classified in a class or category
    belong
    be suitable or acceptable
    curve, twist, wind
    extend in curves and turns
    jumble, mingle
    be all mixed up or jumbled together
    promise
    give grounds for expectations
    accept, take
    be designed to hold or take
    clean
    be cleanable
    draw
    allow a draft
    wash
    be capable of being washed
    balance
    be in equilibrium
    come, hail
    be a native of
    act
    be suitable for theatrical performance
    test
    show a certain characteristic when tested
    seem
    appear to exist
    answer
    be liable or accountable
    beat
    be superior
    hold
    have as a major characteristic
    count
    have a certain value or carry a certain weight
    contain
    be divisible by
    connect
    be scheduled so as to provide continuing service, as in transportation
    sell
    be responsible for the sale of
    sell
    be approved of or gain acceptance
    kill
    be fatal
    make
    be suitable for
    adorn, beautify, deck, decorate, embellish, grace
    be beautiful to look at
    consist
    have its essential character; be comprised or contained in; be embodied in
    work
    behave in a certain way when handled
    lubricate
    have lubricating properties
    breathe
    allow the passage of air through
    trim
    be in equilibrium during a flight
    swing
    have a certain musical rhythm
    osculate
    be intermediate between two taxonomic groups
    retard
    be delayed
    transplant
    be transplantable
    cohere
    have internal elements or parts logically connected so that aesthetic consistency results
    object
    be averse to or express disapproval of
    stick
    be or become fixed
    recognize
    exhibit recognition for (an antigen or a substrate)
    distribute
    be mathematically distributive
    put out
    be sexually active
    bake, broil
    be very hot, due to hot weather or exposure to the sun
    drown, swim
    be covered with or submerged in a liquid
    reel, swim
    be dizzy or giddy
    belong
    be a member, adherent, inhabitant, etc. (of a group, organization, or place)
    squint
    partly close one's eyes, as when hit by direct blinding light
    have
    suffer from; be ill with
    choke, gag, strangle, suffocate
    struggle for breath; have insufficient oxygen intake
    freeze
    be cold
    swelter
    be uncomfortably hot
    ail
    be ill or unwell
    feel like a million, feel like a million dollars
    be in excellent health and spirits
    suffocate
    feel uncomfortable for lack of fresh air
    keep out
    remain outside
    sit tight
    maintain the same position; wait it out
    carry, extend
    continue or extend
    demoralise, demoralize
    confuse or put into disorder
    amaze, baffle, beat, bewilder, dumbfound, flummox, get, gravel, mystify, nonplus, perplex, pose, puzzle, stick, stupefy, vex
    be a mystery or bewildering to
    work out
    be calculated
    come in, come out, place
    take a place in a competition; often followed by an ordinal
    come
    have a certain priority
    determine
    fix in scope; fix the boundaries of
    predicate
    make the (grammatical) predicate in a proposition
    famish, hunger, starve
    be hungry; go without food
    cry
    demand immediate action
    kneel
    rest one's weight on one's knees
    stand, stand up
    be standing; be upright
    bubble over, overflow, spill over
    overflow with a certain feeling
    ferment
    be in an agitated or excited state
    sizzle
    seethe with deep anger or resentment
    make
    appear to begin an activity
    cut
    give the appearance or impression of
    feel
    produce a certain impression
    pass off
    be accepted as something or somebody in a false character or identity
    sound
    appear in a certain way
    come across
    be perceived in a certain way; make a certain impression
    close
    cause a window or an application to disappear on a computer desktop
    instantiate
    represent by an instance
    disorient, disorientate
    cause to be lost or disoriented
    beam, glow, radiate, shine
    have a complexion with a strong bright color, such as red or pink
    gleam, glint, glisten, glitter, shine
    be shiny, as if wet
    seem
    appear to one's own mind or opinion
    agree
    be agreeable or suitable
    mortgage
    put up as security or collateral
    stay together, stick together
    be loyal to one another, especially in times of trouble
    speak for
    be a spokesperson for
    tutor
    act as a guardian to someone
    redefine
    give a new or different definition to
    ensue, result
    issue or terminate (in a specified way, state, etc.); end
    abide, bide, stay
    dwell
    lurch, prowl
    loiter about, with no apparent aim
    hold over
    continue a term of office past the normal period of time
    outnumber
    be larger in number
    average, average out
    amount to or come to an average, without loss or gain
    press, weigh
    to be oppressive or burdensome
    have it coming
    deserve (either good or bad)
    die hard, endure, persist, prevail, run
    continue to exist
    fit, go
    be the right size or shape; fit correctly or as desired
    hang by a hair, hang by a thread
    depend on a small thing or be at risk
    jump, jump out, leap out, stand out, stick out
    be highly noticeable
    lift, rear, rise
    rise up
    loom
    come into view indistinctly, often threateningly
    stand
    be tall; have a height of; copula
    knock back, put back, set back
    cost a certain amount
    stand
    be in effect; be or remain in force
    weigh
    have a certain weight
    endure, last
    persist for a specified period of time
    stand
    remain inactive or immobile
    pullulate, swarm, teem
    be teeming, be abuzz
    take kindly to
    be willing or inclined to accept
    suffer
    be given to
    scale
    measure by or as if by a scale
    retail
    be sold at the retail level
    trade
    be traded at a certain price or under certain conditions
    go
    be ranked or compare
    feel
    be felt or perceived in a certain way
    gravitate
    move toward
    opalesce
    exhibit a play of colors like that of an opal
    keep, stay fresh
    fail to spoil or rot
    tie in
    be in connection with something relevant
    circumvolute
    wind or turn in volutions, especially in an inward spiral, as of snail
    spiral
    form a spiral
    snake
    form a snake-like pattern
    brood, bulk large, hover, loom
    hang over, as of something threatening, dark, or menacing
    make
    add up to
    ornament
    be an ornament to
  2. verb
    have an existence, be extant
    Is there a God?”
    synonyms: exist
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    come
    be found or available
    preexist
    exist beforehand or prior to a certain point in time
    kick about, kick around, knock about
    be around; be alive or active
    coexist
    exist together
    indwell
    to exist as an inner activating spirit, force, or principle
    hold, obtain, prevail
    be valid, applicable, or true
    consist, dwell, lie, lie in
    originate (in)
    endanger, imperil, jeopardise, jeopardize, menace, peril, threaten
    pose a threat to; present a danger to
    flow
    be abundantly present
    distribute
    be distributed or spread, as in statistical analyses
    dwell, inhabit
    exist or be situated within
    coexist
    coexist peacefully, as of nations
    co-occur, coincide, cooccur
    go with, fall together
  3. verb
    have life, be alive
    “Our great leader is no more”
    synonyms: live
    endure, go, hold out, hold up, last, live, live on, survive
    continue to live through hardship or adversity
  4. verb
    form or compose
    “This money is my only income”
    “The stone wall was the backdrop for the performance”
    synonyms: comprise, constitute, make up, represent
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    make
    constitute the essence of
    compose
    form the substance of
    constitute, form, make
    compose or represent
    range, straddle
    range or extend over; occupy a certain area
    fall into, fall under
    be included in or classified as
    pose, present
    introduce
    supplement
    serve as a supplement to
    chelate
    form a chelate, in chemistry
    spread-eagle
    stretch over
    add
    constitute an addition
  5. verb
    work in a specific place, with a specific subject, or in a specific function
    “He is a herpetologist”
    “She is our resident philosopher”
    synonyms: follow
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    types:
    vet
    work as a veterinarian
    cox
    act as the coxswain, in a boat race
  6. verb
    be identical or equivalent to
    synonyms: equal
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    Antonyms:
    differ
    be different
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    correspond, equate
    be equivalent or parallel, in mathematics
    agree, check, correspond, fit, gibe, jibe, match, tally
    be compatible, similar, or consistent; coincide in their characteristics
    correspond, represent, stand for
    take the place of or be parallel or equivalent to
    translate
    be equivalent in effect
    consist
    be consistent in form, tenor, or character; be congruous
    look
    accord in appearance with
    answer
    match or correspond
    coincide
    be the same
    align
    be or come into adjustment with
    correlate
    bear a reciprocal or mutual relation
    parallel
    be parallel to
    duplicate, parallel, twin
    duplicate or match
    square
    be compatible with
    bear out, corroborate, support, underpin
    support with evidence or authority or make more certain or confirm
    resemble
    appear like; be similar or bear a likeness to
    conform to, fit, meet
    satisfy a condition or restriction
    homologize
    be homologous
    befit, beseem, suit
    accord or comport with
    accord, agree, comport, concord, consort, fit in, harmonise, harmonize
    be harmonious or consistent with
    pattern
    form a pattern
    adhere, hew
    be compatible or in accordance with
    rhyme, rime
    be similar in sound, especially with respect to the last syllable
  7. verb
    be identical to; be someone or something
    “The president of the company is John Smith”
    “This is my house”
  8. verb
    represent, as of a character on stage
    “Derek Jacobi was Hamlet”
    synonyms: embody, personify
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    types:
    body, personify
    invest with or as with a body; give body to
    exemplify, represent
    be characteristic of
    type of:
    represent, stand for, symbolise, symbolize, typify
    express indirectly by an image, form, or model; be a symbol
  9. verb
    occupy a certain position or area; be somewhere
    “"Where is my umbrella?" "The toolshed is in the back”
    “What is behind this behavior?”
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    stretch, stretch along
    occupy a large, elongated area
    attend, go to
    be present at (meetings, church services, university), etc.
    fill, occupy
    occupy the whole of
    dwell, inhabit, live, populate
    inhabit or live in; be an inhabitant of
    inhabit
    be present in
    keep one's distance, keep one's eyes off, keep one's hands off, stand back, stay away
    stay clear of, avoid
    extend to, reach, touch
    to extend as far as
    extend, go, lead, pass, run
    stretch out over a distance, space, time, or scope; run or extend between two points or beyond a certain point
    go, lead
    lead, extend, or afford access
    continue, cover, extend
    span an interval of distance, space or time
    extend, poke out, reach out
    reach outward in space
    lie
    be located or situated somewhere; occupy a certain position
    sit
    be located or situated somewhere
    sit, sit around
    be around, often idly or without specific purpose
    face
    be opposite
    straddle
    sit or stand astride of
    follow
    be next
    center on
    have as a center
    lie, rest
    have a place in relation to something else
    belong, go
    be in the right place or situation
    come
    exist or occur in a certain point in a series
    tenant
    occupy as a tenant
    neighbor, neighbour
    live or be located as a neighbor
    sit in
    attend as a visitor
    worship
    attend religious services
    lodge in, occupy, reside
    live (in a certain place)
    crowd
    fill or occupy to the point of overflowing
    take up
    take up time or space
    domicile, domiciliate, reside, shack
    make one's home in a particular place or community
    people
    furnish with people
    overpopulate
    cause to have too great a population
    cohabit, live together, shack up
    share living quarters; usually said of people who are not married and live together as a couple
    lodge
    be a lodger; stay temporarily
    bivouac, camp, camp out, encamp, tent
    live in or as if in a tent
    infest
    live on or in a host, as of parasites
    infest, invade, overrun
    occupy in large numbers or live on a host
    nest
    inhabit a nest, usually after building
    board, room
    live and take one's meals at or in
    cross, span, sweep, traverse
    to cover or extend over an area or time period
    come
    extend or reach
    radiate, ray
    extend or spread outward from a center or focus or inward towards a center
    sweep
    cover the entire range of
    overlap
    extend over and cover a part of
    overspread, spread
    spread across or over
    ridge
    extend in ridges
    constellate, dot, stud
    scatter or intersperse like dots or studs
    reach into
    run into or up to
    nestle
    lie in a sheltered position
    intervene
    be placed or located between other things or extend between spaces and events
    top
    be at the top of or constitute the top or highest point
    mediate
    occupy an intermediate or middle position or form a connecting link or stage between two others
    ride
    lie moored or anchored
    lap
    lie partly over or alongside of something or of one another
    focalise, focalize, localise, localize
    concentrate on a particular place or spot
    slant
    lie obliquely
    precede, predate
    come before
    underlie
    lie underneath
    cap, crest
    lie at the top of
    face, front, look
    be oriented in a certain direction, often with respect to another reference point; be opposite to
    back
    be in back of
    flank
    be located at the sides of something or somebody
    head
    be in the front of or on top of
    command, dominate, overlook, overtop
    look down on
    line, run along
    be in line with; form a line along
    orient, point
    be oriented
    look across, look out on, look out over, overlook
    be oriented in a certain direction
    go deep, go far
    extend in importance or range
  10. verb
    happen, occur, take place
    “this was during the visit to my parents' house”
    “There were two hundred people at his funeral”
    “There was a lot of noise in the kitchen”
  11. verb
    spend or use time
    “I may be an hour”
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    type of:
    occupy, take, use up
    require (time or space)
  12. verb
    to remain unmolested, undisturbed, or uninterrupted -- used only in infinitive form
    “let her be
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    type of:
    remain, rest, stay
    stay the same; remain in a certain state
  13. verb
    be priced at
    synonyms: cost
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    types:
    knock back, put back, set back
    cost a certain amount
Word Family