Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



BESPATTERING, ppr. Spattering with water; soiling with dirt and water; aspersing.

BESPAWL, v.t. [be and spawl.] To soil or make foul with spittle.

BESPEAAK, v.t. pret. bespoke; pp. bespoke, bespoken. [be and speak.]

1. To speak for beforehand; to order or engage against a future time; as, to bespeak a seat in a public coach.

My lade is bespoke.

2. To forebode; to foretell.

They started fears, and bespoke dangers, to scare the allies.

3. To speak to; to address. This sense is mostly poetical.

He thus the queen bespoke.

4. To betoken; to show; to indicate by external marks or appearances; as, his manners bespeak him a gentleman.

BESPEAKER, n. One who bespeaks.

BESPEAKING, ppr. Speaking for or ordering beforehand; foreboding; addressing; showing; indicating.

BESPEAKING, n. A previous speaking or discourse, by way of apology, or to engage favor.

BESPECKLE, v.t. [be and speckle.] To mark with speckles or spots.

BESPICE, v.t. [be and spice.] To season with spices.

BESPIRIT, BESPURT, v.t. To spurt out, or over; to throw out in a stream or streams. [Not used.]

BESPIT, v.t. pret. bespit; pp. bespit, bespitten. [be and spit.] To daub or soil with spittle.

BESPOKE, pret. and pp. of bespeak.

BESPOT, v.t. [be and spot.] To mark with spots.

BESPOTTED, pp. Marked with spots.

BESPOTTING, ppr. Marking with spots.

BESPREAD, v.t. bespred’. pret. and pp. bespread. [be and spread.] To spread over; to cover over; as, to bespread with flowers.

BESPRINGKLE, v.t. [be and sprinkle.] To sprinkle over; to scatter over; as, to besprinkle with dust.

BESPRINKLED, pp. Sprinkled over.

BESPRINKLER, n. One that sprinkles over.

BESPRINKLING, ppr. Sprinkling over.

BEST, a. superlative. [Eng. but;] Literally, most advanced, Hence,

1. Most good; having good qualities in the highest degree; applied indifferently to physical or moral subjects; as, the best man; the best road; the best cloth; the best abilities. This, like most, and other attributes, is often used without its noun, when the noun is obvious; as, men are all sinners; the best of them fail in the performance of duty.

2. Most advanced; most accurate; as the best scholar.

3. Most correct or complete; as the best view of a landscape, or of a subject.

4. The best. This phrase is elliptical, and may be variously interpreted; as, the utmost power; the strongest endeavor; the most, the highest perfection; as, let a man do his best; let him do a thing to the best of his power.

5. At best, in the best manner, in the utmost degree or extent, applicable to the case; as, life is at best very short.

To make the best of, to carry to its greatest perfection; to improve to the utmost; as, to make the best of a sum of money, or a piece of land. Also, to permit the least possible inconvenience; as, to make the best of ill fortune or a bad bargain.

The best of the way. We had made the best of our way to the city; that is, the most, the greatest part of the distance. [This is the primary sense of the word.]

BEST, adv. In the highest degree; beyond all other; as, to love one best; to like this best; to please best.

1. To the advantage; with the most ease; as,”which instrument can you best use?”

2. With most profit or success; as, money is best employed in manufactures; this medicine will answer best in the present case.

3. Most intimately or particularly; most correctly; as, what is expedient is best known to himself.

BEST-TEMPERED, a. Having the most kind or mild temper.

BESTAIN, v.t. [be and stain.] To mark with stains; to discolor, either the whole surface of a thing, or in spots.

BESTEAD, v.t. bested’ pret. and pp. bested. [be and stead.] To profit.

How little you bestead.

1. To accommodate.

They shall pass through it, hardly bestead. Isaiah 8:21.

That is, distressed; perplexed.

2. To dispose.

BESTIAL, a. [from beast.]

1. Belonging to a beast, or to the class of beasts.

2. Having the qualities of a beast; brutal; below the dignity of reason or humanity; carnal; as a bestial appetite.

BESTIALITY, n. The quality of beasts; the state or manners of man which resemble those of brutes.

1. Unnatural connection with a beast.

BESTIALIZE, v.t. To make like a beast.

BESTIALLY, adv. Brutally; in a manner below humanity.

BESTICK, v.t. pret. and pp. bestuck. [be and stick.]

To stick over, as with sharp points; to mark, by infixing points or spots here and there.

Truth shall retire, bestuck with slanderous darts.

BESTIR, v.t. bestur’ [be and stir.] To put into brisk or vigorous action; to move with life and vigor; usually with the reciprocal pronoun; as, rise and bestir yourselves.

BESTIRRED, pp. Roused into vigorous action; quickened in action.

BESTIRRING, ppr. Moving briskly; putting into vigorous action.

BESTNESS, n. The state of being best. [Not used.]

BESTORM, v.i. [be and storm.] To storm; to rage. [Not used.]

BESTOW, v.t. [be and stow, a place. See Stow. Literally, to set or place.]

1. To give; to confer; to impart; with the sense of gratuity, and followed by on or upon.

Consecrate yourselves to the Lord, that he may bestow on you a blessing. Exodus 32:29.

Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor. 1 Corinthians 13:3.

This word should never be followed by to.

2. To give in marriage; to dispose of.

I could have bestowed her upon a fine gentleman.

3. To apply; to place for the purpose of exertion, or use; as, to bestow our whole force upon an object.

4. To lay out, or dispose of; to give in payment for; as, to bestow money for what we desire. Deuteronomy 14:26.

5. To lay up in store; to deposit for safe keeping; to stow; to place.

I have no room where to bestow my fruits. Luke 12:17.

BESTOWAL, n. A conferring; disposal. [Little used.]

BESTOWED, ppr. Given gratuitously; conferred; laid out; applied; deposited for safe-keeping.

BESTOWER, n. One who bestows; a giver; a disposer.

BESTOWING, ppr. Conferring gratuitously; laying out; applying; depositing in store.

BESTOWMENT, n. The act of giving gratuitously; a conferring.

God the father had committed the bestowment of the blessings purchased, to his son.

If we consider this bestowment of gifts in this view.

Whatever may be the secret counsel of his will respecting his own bestowment of saving grace.

1. That which is conferred, or given; donation.

They strengthened his hands by their liberal bestowments on him and his family.

The free and munificent bestowment of the Sovereign Judge.

BESTRADDLE, v.t. To bestride. [See Straddle.]

BESTRAUGHT, a. Distracted; mad. [Not used.]

BESTREW, v.t. pret. bestrewed; pp. bestrewed, bestrown. [be and strew.] To scatter over; to besprinkle; to strow.

BESTREWED, pp. of bestrew.

BESTRIDE, v.t. pret. bestrid; pp. bestrid, bestridden. [be and stride.]

1. To stride over; to stand or sit with any thing between the legs, or with the legs extended across; as, to bestride the world, like a colossus; to bestride a horse.

2. To step over; as, to bestride a threshold.

Bestriding sometimes includes riding, or defending, as Johnson remarks; but the particular purposes to the act, which depend on the circumstances of the case, can hardly be reduced to definition.

BESTRIDING, ppr. Extending the legs over any thing, so as to include it between them.

BESTROWN, pp. of bestrew. Sprinkle over.

BESTUCK, pp. of bestick. Pierced in various places with sharp points.

BESTUD, v.t. [be and stud.] To set with studs; to adorn with bosses; as, to bestud with stars.

BESTUDDED, pp. Adorned with studs.

BESTUDDING, ppr. Setting with studs; adorning as with bosses.

BESWIKE, v.t. beswik’. To allure. [Not used.]

BET, n. A wager; that which is laid, staked or pledges in a contest, to be won, either by the victorious party himself, or by another person, in consequence of his victory. At a race, a man lays a bet on his own horse, or on the horse of another man.

BET, v.t. To lay a bet; to lay a wager; to stake or pledge something upon the event of a context.
BET, the old participle of beat, is obsolete or vulgar.

BETAKE, v.t. pret. betook; pp. betaken. [be and take.]

1. To take to; to have recourse to; to apply; to resort; with the reciprocal pronoun; as, to betake ourselves to arms, or to action. It generally implies a motion towards an object, as to betake ourselves to a shade grove; or an application of the mind or faculties, corresponding with such motion, as to betake ourselves to study or to vice.

2. Formerly, to take or seize.

BETAKEN, part. of betake.

BETAKING, ppr. Having recourse to; applying; resorting.

BETAUGHT, pret. of betake. [Not used.]

BETEEM, v.t. [be and teem.] To bring forth; to produce; to shed; to bestow. [Not used.]

BETEL, BETLE, n. A species of pepper, the leaves of which are chewed by the inhabitants of the East Indies. It is a creeping or climbing plant like the ivy, the leaves somewhat resembling those of the citron. It is planted by a tree, or supported by props. In India, betel is taken after meals; during a visit, it is offered to friends when they meet, and when they separate; in short, nothing is to be done without betel. To correct the bitterness of the leaves, a little areca is wrapped in them with the chinam, a kind of burnt lime made of shells.

BETHINK, v.t. pret. and pp. bethought. [be and think.]

To call to mind; to recall or bring to recollection, reflection, or consideration; generally followed by a reciprocal pronoun, with of before the subject of thought.

I have bethought myself of another fault.

BETHINK, v.i. To have in recollection; to consider.

BETHLEHEM, n. [Heb. the house of food or bread.]

1. A town or village in Judea, about six miles south-east of Jerusalem; famous for its being the place of Christ’s nativity.

2. A hospital for lunatics; corrupted into bedlam.

BETHLEMITE, n. An inhabitant of Bethlehem; a lunatic.

1. In church history, the Bethlemites were a sort of Monks, introduced into England in the year 1257, who were habited like the Dominicans, except that they wore a star with five rays, in memory of the comet or star which appeared over Bethlehem at the nativity of our Savior. There is an order of Bethlemites also in Peru.

BETHOUGHT, bethaut; pret. and pp. of bethink.

BETHRALL, v.t. [be and thrall.] To enslave; to reduce to bondage; to bring into subjection. [Little used.]

BETHUMP, v.t. [be and thump.] To beat soundly. [Little used.]

BETIDE, v.t. pret. betid, or betided; pp. betid. [be and tide.]

To happen; to befall; to come to; used of good or evil.

What will betide the few?

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

What news else betideth here?

Shakespeare has used it with of. What would betide of thee? but this is unusual or improper.

BETIME, BETIMES, adv. [be and time, that is, by the time.]

1. Seasonably; in good season or time; before it is late.

To measure life learn thou betimes.

2. Soon; in a short time.

He tires betimes, that spurs too fast betimes.

BETOKEN, v.t. beto’kn. [be and token.]

1. To signify by some visible object; to show by signs.

A dewy cloud, and in the cloud a bow

Betokening peace from God.

2. To foreshow by present signs; to indicate something future by that which is seen or known; as, a dark cloud often betokens a storm.

BETOKENED, pp. Foreshown; previously indicated.

BETOKENING, ppr. Indicating by previous signs.

BETONY, n. [L. betonica.] A genus of plants of several species. The purple or wood betony grows in woods and shady places, and is deemed useful as a mild corroborant.

BETOOK, pret. of betake.

BETORN, a. Torn in pieces.

BETOSS, v.t. [be and toss.] To toss; to agitate; to disturb; to put in violent motion.

BETRAP, v.t. [from trap.] To entrap; to ensnare. [Not used.]

BETRAY, v.t. [L. traho.]

1. To deliver into the hands of an enemy by treachery or fraud, in violation of trust; as, an officer betrayed the city.

The son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men. Matthew 17:22.

2. To violate by fraud, or unfaithfulness; as, to betray a trust.

If the people of America ever betray their trust, their guilt will merit even greater punishment than other nations have suffered, and the indignation of heaven.

3. To violate confidence by disclosing a secret, or that which was intrusted; to expose; followed by the person, or the thing; as, my friend betrayed me, or betrayed the secret.

4. To disclose, or permit to appear, what is intended to be kept secret, or what prudence would conceal.

Be swift to hear, but cautions of your tongue, lest you betray your ignorance.


5. To mislead or expose to inconvenience not foreseen; as, great confidence betrays a man into errors.

6. To show; to discover; to indicate what is not obvious at first view, or would otherwise be concealed.

Nor, after length of years, a stone betray

The place where once the very ruins lay.

This river betrays its original in its name.

All the names in the country betray great antiquity.

7. To fail, or deceive.

But when I rise, I shall find my legs betraying me.

BETRAYED, pp. Delivered up in breach of trust; violated by unfaithfulness; exposed by breach of confidence; disclosed contrary to expectation or intention; made known; discoverd.

BETRAYER, n. One who betrays; a traitor.

BETRAYING, ppr. Delivering up treacherously; violating confidence; disclosing contrary to intention; exposing; discovering.

BETRIM, v.t. [be and trim.] To deck; to dress; to adorn; to grace; to embellish; to beautify; to decorate.

BETRIMMED, pp. Adorned; decorated.

BETRIMMING, ppr. Decking; adorning; embellishing.

BETROTH, v.t. [be and troth, truth, faith. See Truth and Troth.]

1. To contract to any one, in order to a future marriage; to promise or pledge one to be the future spouse of another; to affiance; used of either sex. “The father betroths his daughter.”

2. To contract with one for a future spouse; to espouse; as, a man betroths a lady.

3. To nominate to a bishopric, in order to consecration.

BETROTHED, pp. Contracted for future marriage.

BETROTHING, ppr. Contracting to any one, in order to a future marriage, as the father or guardian; contracting with one for a future wife, as the intended husband; espousing.

BETROTHMENT, n. A mutual promise or contract between two parties, for a future marriage between the persons betrothed; espousals.

BETRUST, v.t. [be and trust.] To entrust; to commit to another in confidence of fidelity; to confide. This is less used than entrust.

BETRUSTED, pp. Entrusted; confided; committed in trust.

BETRUSTING, ppr. Entrusting; committing in trust.

BETRUSTMENT, n. The act of entrusting; the thing entrusted.

BETSO, n. The smallest Venetian coin.

BETTER, a comp. of bet. [See Best.]

1. Having good qualities in a greater degree than another; applied to physical, acquired or moral qualities; as a better soil, a better man, a better physician, a better house, a better air, a better harvest.

2. More advantageous.

Were it not better for us to return to Egypt: Numbers 14:3.

3. More acceptable.

To obey is better than sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15:22.

4. More safe.

It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man. Psalm 118:8, 9.

5. Improved in health; less affected with disease; as, the patient is better.

6. To be better off, to be in a better condition. Beddoes, Hygeia. This is a very common phrase; but ought not off, to be of? It is not elegant.

7. To have the better, is to have the advantage or superiority, followed by of before him or that over which the advantage is enjoyed; as, the English had the better of the Spaniards.

8. To get or gain the better, is to obtain the advantage, superiority or victory; as, to get the better of an enemy.

9. For the better, is for the advantage or improvement.

BETTER, adv. In a more excellent manner; with more skill and wisdom, virtue, advantage or success; as, to perform work better; to plan a scheme better; land better cultivated; laws better executed; government better administered.

1. More correctly, or fully; as, to understand a subject better than another.

2. With superior excellence; as, to write or speak better than another.

3. With more affection; in a higher degree; as, to love one better than another.

It is not easy to specify and exemplify the various applications of better. In general, it implies what is more excellent, advantageous, useful, or virtuous, than something else.

BETTER, v.t.

1. To improve; to meliorate; to increase the good qualities of; as, manure betters land; discipline may better the morals.

2. To surpass; to exceed.

The works of nature do always aim at that which cannot be bettered.

Qu. is not the sense, made better:

3. To advance; to support; to give advantage to; as, to better a party; to better a cause.

BETTER, n. A superior; one who has a claim to precedence on account of his rank, age, or office; as, give place to your betters. It is generally or always used in the plural.

BETTERED, pp. Improved; meliorated; made better.

BETTERING, ppr. Making better; improving.

BETTERING-HOUSE, n. A house for the reformation of offenders.

BETTOR, n. [from bet.] One who bets or lays a wager.

BETTY, n. [Supposed to be a cant word from the name of a maid; but qu. is it not from the root of beat or L. peto?]

An instrument to break open doors.

BETUMBLED, a. [be and tumble.] Rolled about; tumbled; disordered.

BETWEEN, prep.

1. In the intermediate space, without regard to distance; as, New York is between Boston and Philadelphia; the Delaware river runs between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

2. From one another; passing from one to another, noting exchange of actions or intercourse; as, things go well between the parties.

3. Belonging to two or more, in common or partnership; as, two friends have but one soul between them; twenty proprietors own a tract of land between them. We observe that between is not restricted to two.

4. Having mutual relation to two or more; as, discords exist between the families.

5. Noting difference, or discrimination of one from another; as, to distinguish between right and wrong.

BETWIXT, prep.

1. Between; in the space that separates two persons or things; as, betwixt two oaks.

2. Passing between; from one to another, noting intercourse. [See Between.]


Among masons, carpenters, joiners, etc., an instrument, or kind of square, one leg of which is frequently crooked, according to the sweep of an arch or vault. It is movable on a point or center, and so may be set to any angle. An angle that is not square is called a bevel angle, whether obtuse or acute.

1. A curve or inclination of a surface from a right line; as, the proper bevel of a piece of timber.

BEVEL, a. Crooked; awry; oblique.
BEVEL, v.t. To cut a bevel angle.
BEVEL, v.i. To curve; to incline towards a point, or from a direct line.

BEVELED, pp. Formed to a bevel angle.

BEVELING, ppr. Forming to a bevel angle.

BEVELING, a. Curving; bending from a right line.
BEVELING, n. A hewing of timber with a proper and regular curve, according to a mold laid on one side of its surface.

1. The curve or bevel of timber.