Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



BEER, n.

1. A spirituous liquor made from any farinaceous grain; but generally from barley, which is first malted and ground, and its fermentable substance extracted by hot water. This extract or infusion is evaporated by boiling in caldrons, and hops or some other plant of an agreeable bitterness added. The liquor is then suffered to ferment in vats. Beer is of different degrees of strength, and is denominated small beer, ale, porter, brown stout, etc., according to its strength, or other peculiar qualities.

2. Beer is a name given in America to fermenting liquors made of various other materials; and when a decoction of the roots of plants forms a part of the composition, it is called spring-beer, from the season in which it is made.

BEER-BARREL, n. A barrel for holding beer.

BEER-HOUSE, n. A house where malt liquors are sold; an ale house.

BEESTINGS, [See Biestings.]

BEET, n. [L. beta.] A plant of the genus Beta. The species cultivated in gardens are the cicla and vulgaris, or white and red beet. There are many varieties; some with long taper roots, and others with flat roots, like turnips. The root furnishes a large portion of sugar, which has been recently manufactured in France on a great scale.


1. A heavy mallet or wooden hammer, used to drive wedges, beat pavements, etc.; called also a stamper, or rammer.

2. In zoology, a genus of insects, the scarabaeus, of many species. The generic characters are, clavated antennae, fissile longitudinally, legs frequently dentated, and wings which have hard cases, or sheaths. The bones of these insects are placed externally, and their muscles within. They are of different sizes, from that of a pin’s head, to that of a man’s fist. Some are produced in a month, and go through their existence in a year; in others, four years are required to produce them, and they live as winged insects a year more. They have various names, as the may-bug, the dorr-beetle, the cock-chaffer, the tumble-dung, the elephant-beetle, etc. The latter, found in South America, is the largest species, being four inches long.

BEETLE, v.i. bee’tl. To jut; to be prominent; to hang or extend out; as, a cliff that beetles over its base.

BEETLE-BROW, n. [beetle and brow.] A prominent brow.

BEETLE-BROWED, a. Having prominent brows.

BEETLE-HEAD, n. [beetle and head.] A stupid fellow.

BEETLE-HEADED, a. Having a head like a beetle; dull; stupid.

BEETLE-STOCK, n. [beetle and stock.] The handle of a beetle.

BEETLING, ppr. Jutting; being prominent; standing out from the main body.

BEET-RAVE, BEET-RADISH, n. A kind of beet, used for salad.

BEEVES, n. plu. of beef. Cattle; quadrupeds of the bovine genus, called in England, black cattle.

BEFALL, v.t. pret. befell; part. befallen.

To happen to; to occur to; as, let me know the worst that can befall me. It usually denotes ill. It is generally transitive in form, but there seems to be an ellipsis of to, and to sometimes follows it.

BEFALL, v.i. To happen; to come to pass.

To befall of is not legitimate.

BEFALLING, ppr. Happening to; occurring to; coming to pass.

BEFELL, pret. of befall.

BEFIT, v.t. [be and fit.] To suit; to be suitable to; to become.

That name best befits thee.

BEFITTING, ppr. or a. Suiting; becoming.

BEFOAM, v.t. [be and foam.] To cover with foam. [Little used.]

BEFOOL, v.t. [be and fool.] To fool; to infatuate; to delude or lead into error.

Men befool themselves.

BEFOOLED, pp. Fooled; deceived; led into error.

BEFOOLING, ppr. Fooling; making a fool of; deceiving; infatuating.

BEFORE, prep. [be and fore, that is by fore, near the fore part.]

1. In front; on the side with the face, at any distance; used of persons.

2. In presence of, with the idea of power, authority, respect.

Abraham bowed before the people of the land. Genesis 23:12.

Wherewithal shall I come before the Lord. Micah 6:6.

3. In sight of; as before the face.

4. In the presence of, noting cognizance of jurisdiction.

5. In the power of, noting the right or ability to choose or possess; free to the choice.

The world was all before them.

My land is before thee. Genesis 20:15.

6. In front of any object; as before the house; before the fire.

7. Preceding in time.

Before I was afflicted, I went astray. Psalm 119:67.

Before Abraham was, I am. John 8:58.

Here the preposition has a sentence following for an object.

8. In preference to.

And he set Ephraim before Manasseh. Genesis 48:20.

Poverty is desirable before torments.

9. Superior; preceding in dignity.

He that cometh after me is preferred before me, for he was before me. John 1:15.

10. Prior to; having prior right; preceding in order; as, the eldest son is before the younger in succession.

11. Previous to; in previous order; in order to.

Before this treatise can become of use, two points are necessary.

12. Before the wind, is to move in the direction of the wind by its impulse.

BEFORE, adv. In time preceding.

You tell me what I knew before.

1. In time preceding, to the present, or to this time; hitherto; as, tumults then arose which before were unknown.

2. Further onward in place, in progress, or in front.

Reaching forth to those things which are before. Philippians 3:13.

3. In front; on the fore part.

The battle was before and behind. 2 Chronicles 13:14.

In some of the examples of the use of before, which Johnson places under the adverb, the word is a preposition governing a sentence; as, “Before the hills appeared.” This is the real construction, however overlooked or misunderstood.

BEFOREHAND, adv. [before and hand.] In a state of anticipation or preoccupation; often followed by with; as, you are before hand with me.

1. Antecedently; by way of preparation or preliminary; aforetime. Mark 13:11; 1 Timothy 5:24, 25.

2. In a state of accumulation, so as that more has been received than expended. A man is beforehand. In this use it is more properly an adjective.

3. At first; before any thing is done.

BEFORE-TIME, adv. [before and time.] Formerly; of old time. 1 Samuel 9:9; Joshua 20:5.

BEFORTUNE, v.t. [be and fortune.] To happen to; to betide.

BEFOUL, v.t. To make foul; to soil.

BEFRIEND, v.t. befrend’. [be and friend.] To favor; to act as a friend to; to countenance, aid or benefit.

BEFRIENDED, pp. Favored; countenanced.

BEFRIENDING, ppr. Favoring; assisting as a friend; showing kindness to.

BEFRINGE, v.t. befrinj’. [be and fringe.] To furnish with a fringe; to adorn as with fringe.

BEFRINGED, pp. Adorned as with a fringe.

BEG, n. In the Turkish dominions, a governor of a town or country; more particularly, the lord of a sangiac or banner. Every province is divided into seven sangiacs or banners, each of which qualifies a bey; and these are commanded by the governor of the province, called begler-beg or lord of all the beys. Each beg has the command of a certain number of spahis, or horse, denominated timariots.

In Tunis, the beg or bey is the prince or king, answering to the dey of Algiers.

In Egypt, the begs are twelve generals who command the militia, or standing forces of the kingdom.

BEG, v.t.

1. To ask earnestly; to beseech; to entreat or supplicate with humility. It implies more urgency than ask or petition.

Joseph begged the body of Jesus. Matthew 27:58.

2. To ask or supplicate in charity; as, we may yet be reduced to beg our bread.

3. To take for granted; to assume without proof; as, to beg the question in debate.

BEG, v.i. To ask alms or charity; to practice begging; to live by asking alms.

I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. Luke 16:3.

BEGET, v.t. pret. begot, begat; pp. begot, begotten.

1. To procreate, as a father or sire; to generate; as, to beget a son.

2. To produce, as an effect; to cause to exist; to generate; as, luxury begets vice.

BEGETTER, n. One who begets or procreates; a father.

BEGGABLE, a. That may be begged.

BEGGAR, n. [See Beg.] One that lives by asking alms, or makes it his business to beg for charity.

1. One who supplicates with humility; a petitioner; but in this sense rarely used, as the word has become a term of contempt.

2. One who assumes in argument what he does not prove.

BEGGAR, v.t. To reduce to beggary; to impoverish.

1. To deprive or make destitute; to exhaust; as, to beggar description.

BEGGARED, pp. Reduced to extreme poverty.

BEGGARING, ppr. Reducing to indigence or a state of beggary.

BEGGARLINESS, n. The state of being beggarly; meanness; extreme poverty.

BEGGARLY, a. Mean; poor; in the condition of a beggar; extremely indigent.

BEGGARLY, adv. Meanly; indigently; despicable.

BEGGAR-MAID, n. A maid that is a beggar.

BEGGAR-MAN, n. A man that is a beggar.

BEGGAR-WOMAN, n. A female beggar.

BEGGARY, n. A state of extreme indigence.

BEGGED, pp. Entreated; supplicated; asked in charity.

BEGGING, ppr. Asking alms; supplicating; assuming without proof.

BEGGING, n. The act of soliciting alms; the practice of asking alms; as, he lives by begging.

BEGHARDS, BEGUARDS, n. A religious order of St. Francis in Flanders, established at Antwerp in 1228, and so named from St. Begghe, their patroness. They at first employed themselves in making linen cloth, united in bonds of charity, without any rule; but in 1290, they embraced that of the third order of St. Francis. The name has been transferred to all the other religious of the convent of Antwerp.

BEGILT, a. Gilded.

BEGIN, v.i. pret. began; pp. begun. [L. genero, gigno; Heb. to make ready, to adapt, prepare, establish.]

1. To have an original or first existence; to take rise; to commence.

As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, who have been since the world began. Luke 1:70.

Judgment must begin at the house of God. 1 Peter 4:17.

From Nimrod first the savage race began.

And tears began to flow.

2. To do the first act; to enter upon something new; to take the first step; as, begin, my muse.

Begin every day to repent.

When I begin, I will also make an end. 1 Samuel 3:12.

BEGINv.t. To do the first act of any thing; to enter on; to commence.

Ye nymphs of Solyma, begin the song.

And this they begin to do. Genesis 11:6.

2. To trace from any thing, as the first ground; to lay the foundation.

The apostle begins our knowledge in the creatures, which leads us to the knowledge of God.

To begin with, to enter upon first; to use or employ first; as, to begin with the Latin Grammar; to begin business with a small capital.

BEGINNER, n. The person who begins; he that gives an original; the agent who is the cause; an author.

1. One who first enters upon any art, science or business; one who is in his rudiments; a young practitioner; often implying want of experience.

BEGINNING, ppr. First entering upon; commencing; giving rise or original; taking rise or origin.

BEGINNING, n. The first cause; origin.

I am the beginning and the ending. Revelation 1:8.

1. That which is first; the first state; commencement; entrance into being.

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1.

3. The rudiments, first ground or materials.

Mighty things from small beginnings grow

BEGINNINGLESS, a. That hath no beginning. [A bad word and not used.]

BEGIRD, v.t. begurd. pret. begirt, begirded; pp. begirt. [be and gird.]

1. To bind with a band or girdle.

2. To surround; to inclose; to encompass.

Begird the Almighty throne.

3. To besiege.

To begirt, used by B. Jonso, is a corrupt orthography.

BEGIRDED, BEGIRT, pp. Bound with a girdle; surrounded; inclosed; besieged.

BEGIRDING, ppr. Binding with a girdle; surrounding; besieging.

BEGLERBEG, n. [See Beg.] The governor of a province in the Turkis empire, next in dignity to the grand vizier. Each has three ensigns or staves, trimmed with a horse tail, to distinguish him from a bashaw, who has two, and a beg, who has one. His province is called beglerbeglik.

BEGNAW, v.t. benaw’. To bite or gnaw, to eat away; to corrode; to nibble.

BEGONE. Go away; depart. These two words have been improperly united. Be retains the sense of a verb, and gone, that of a participle.

BEGORED, a. [be and gore.] Besmeared with gore.

BEGOT, BEGOTTEN, pp. of get. Procreated; generated.

BEGRAVE, v.t. To deposit in the grave; to bury. [Not used.]

BEGREASE, v.t. s as z. [be and grease.] To soil or daub with grease, or other oily matter.

BEGRIME, v.t. [be and grime.] To soil with dirt deep-impressed, so that the natural hue cannot easily be recovered.

BEGRIMED, pp. Deeply soiled.

BEGRUDGE, v.t. begrudj’. [See Grudge.] To grudge; to envy the possession of.

BEGUILE, v.t. begi’le. [be and guile.] To delude; to deceive; to impose on by artifice or craft.

The serpent beguiled me and I did eat Genesis 3:13.

1. To elude by craft.

When misery could beguile the tyrant’s rage.

2. To elude any thing disagreeable by amusement, or other means; to pass pleasingly; to amuse; as, to beguile the tedious day with sleep.

BEGUILED, pp. Deluded; imposed on; misled by craft; eluded by stratagem; passed pleasingly.

BEGUILER, n. He or that which beguiles or deceives.

BEGUILING, ppr. Deluding; deceiving by craft; eluding by artifice, amusing.

BEGUILTY, v.t. To render guilty. A barbarous word.

BEGUIN, n. The beguins are a congregation of nuns in Flanders, so called from their founder, or from their head dress. Beguin, in French, is a linen cap. From this order sprung the Beguinages in Flanders.

BEGUN, pp. of begin. Commenced; originated.

BEHALF, n. behaf. [See Behoof.]

1. Favor; advantage; convenience, profit; support, defense, vindication. The advocate pleads in behalf of the prisoner. The patriot suffers in behalf of his country.

2. Part; side; noting substitution, or the act of taking the part of another; as, the agent appeared in behalf of his constituents, and entered a claim.

BEHAPPEN, v.i. [be and happen.] To happen to.

BEHAVE, v.t.

1. To restrain; to govern; to subdue.

He did behave his anger e’er ‘twas spent.

This sense is obsolete. Yet it often seems to be implied; for to behave one’s self, is really, to govern one’s self; to have in command.

2. To carry; to conduct; used with the reciprocal pronoun; as, he behaves himself manfully. But the tendency of modern usage is to omit the pronoun; as, he behaves well.

BEHAVE, v.i. To act; to conduct; generally applied to manners, or to conduct in any particular business; and in a good or bad sense. He behaves well or will.

BEHAVED, pp. Conducted.

BEHAVING, ppr. Carrying; conducting.

BEHAVIOR, n. behavyur. [See Behave.]

Manner of behaving, whether good or bad; conduct; manners; carriage of one’s self, with respect to propriety, or morals; deportment. It expresses external appearance or action; sometimes in a particular character; more generally in the common duties of life; as, our future destiny depends on our behavior in this life. It may express correct or good manners, but I doubt whether it ever expresses the idea of elegance of manners, without another word to qualify it.

To be upon one’s behavior, is to be in a state of trial, in which something important depends on propriety of conduct. The modern phrase is, to be or to be put, upon one’s good behavior.

BEHEAD, v.t. behed’. [be and head.]

To cut off the head; to sever the head from the body, with a cutting instrument; appropriately used of the execution of men for crimes.

BEHEADED, pp. behed’ed. Having the head cut off.

BEHEADING, ppr. behed’ing. Severing the head from the body.

BEHEADING, n. behed’ing. The act of separating the head from the body by a cutting instrument; decollation.

BEHELD, pret. and pp. of behold, which see.

BEHEMOTH, n. [Heb. a beast or brute; from an Arabic vert, which signifies, to shut, to lie hid, to be dumb. In Eth. dumb.]

Authors are divided in opinion as to the animal intended in scripture by this anme; some supposing it to be an ox, others, an elephant; and Bochart labors to prove it the hippopotamus, or river horse. The latter opinion is most probably. [See Hippopotamus.] The original word in Arabic signifies a brute of beast in general, especially a quadruped.

BEHEN, BEN, BEKEN, n. A plant. The white behen is a species of Cucubalus, called Swedish Lychnis, or gum sepungar. The empalement of its flower resembles net-work, and its leaves have somewhat of the flavor of pease.

The behen of the shops, or white behen, is spatling poppy. Red behen is sea lavender.

BEHEST, n. Command; precept; mandate. [Antiquated, except in poetry.]

BEHIGHT, v.t. behite; pret. behot.

To promise; to entrust; to call, or name; to command; to adjudge; to address; to inform; to mean; to reckon. The orthography is corrupt; it should be behite.

BEHIND, prep.

1. At the back of another; as, to ride behind a horseman.

2. On the back part, at any distance; in the rear; as, to walk behind another.

3. Remaining; left after the departure of another, whether by removing to a distance, or by death; as, a man leaves his servant behind him, or his estate at his decease.

4. Left at a distance, in progress or improvement; as, one student is behind another in mathematics.

5. Inferior to another in dignity and excellence.

For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. 2 Corinthians 11:5.

6. On the side opposite to that which fronts a person; on the other side; as behind a bed; behind a hill; behind a house, tree, or rock.

Behind the back, in scripture, signifies, out of notice, or regard; overlooked; disregarded.

They cast thy laws behind their backs. Nehemiah 9:26; Isaiah 38:17.

BEHIND, adv. [be and hind.] Out of sight; not produced, or exhibited to view; remaining; as, we know no what evidence is behind.

1. Backwards; on the back-part; as, to look behind.

2. Past in the progress of time.

3. Future, or remaining to be endured.

And fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh. Colossians 1:24.

4. Remaining after a payment; unpaid; as, there is a large sum behind.

5. Remaining after the departure of; as, he departed and left us behind.

BEHINDHAND, a. [behind and hand.] In arrear; in an exhausted state; in a state in which rent or profit has been anticipated, and expenditures precede the receipt of funds to supply them. In popular use, a state of poverty, in which the means of living are not adequate to the end. Also, in a state of backwardness, in which a particular business has been delayed beyond the proper season for performing it; as, he is behindhand in his business.

Behindhand with, is behind in progress; not upon equal terms in forwardness; as to be behindhand with the fashionable world.

This word is really an adjective, as it is applied to the person rather than to the verb; but like adrift, aloft, ashamed, and several other words, never precedes the noun. Shakespeare’s “behindhand slackness.” therefore, according to present usage, is not a legitimate phrase.

BEHOLD, v.t. pret. and pp. beheld’ [L. observo, from servo, to keep.]

1. To fix the eyes upon; to see with attention; to observe with care.

Behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29.

2. In a less intensive sense, to look upon; to see.

When he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. Numbers 21:9.

BEHOLD, v.i. To look; to direct the eyes to an object.

And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne, a lamb, as it had been slain. Revelation 5:6.

1. To fix the attention upon an object; to attend; to direct or fix the mind.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. Revelation 3:20. Behold is much used in this manner for exciting attention, or admiration. It is in the imperative mode, expressing command, or exhortation; and by no means a mere exclamation.

BEHOLDEN, pp. or a. beholdn. [The participle of behold, to keep, guard, or bind. See Behold.]

Obliged; bound in gratitude; indebted.

Little are we beholden to your love.

BEHOLDER, n. One who beholds; a spectator; one who looks upon, or sees.

BEHOLDING, ppr. Fixing the eyes upon; looking on; seeing.

1. Fixing the attention; regarding with attention.

2. Obligation. [Not used.]

3. Obliged. Bacon on Love. A mistaken use of the word for beholden.

BEHOLDINGNESS, n. The state of being obliged.

[An error, and not in use.]

BEHONEY, v.t. To sweeten with honey.


1. Radically, need, necessity; whence, by an easy analogy, the word came to signify that which supplies want. Hence, in present usage.

2. That which is advantageous; advantage; profit; benefit.

No mean recompense it brings to your behoof.

BEHOOVABLE, a. Needful; profitable.

BEHOOVE, v.t. behoof’. To be necessary for; to be fit for; to be meet for, with respect to necessity, duty, or convenience.

And thus it behooved Christ to suffer. Luke 24:46.

It may perhaps be used intransitively; as, let him behave as it behooveth; but I believe such use is rare.

BEHOOVEFUL, a. behoov’ful. Needful; useful; profitable; advantageous.

BEHOOVEFULLY, adv. behoov’fully. Usefully, profitably.