Main definitions of be in English

: be1Be2BE3

be1

verb

  • 1usually there is/areExist.

    ‘there are no easy answers’
    ‘there once was a man’
    ‘there must be something wrong’
    ‘I think, therefore I am’
    • ‘After the horrors in Madrid there was a huge amount of media coverage and worldwide sympathy.’
    • ‘He has a boundless voice, there are no real limits to his range as a tenor and he is a joy to listen to.’
    • ‘There are more than enough wrecks to keep divers happy for years to come.’
    • ‘In every constituency there are men and women who want to rescue the party from the cuckoos in its nest.’
    • ‘There were at least three hundred souls in the town who had been on the verge of starvation.’
    • ‘There were at least three road closures for maintenance today between here and Boston.’
    • ‘There was no publicity of the programme of events, or even that there was a programme of events.’
    • ‘Sources close to the president say there were at least six plots to kill him in 2002.’
    • ‘He added that there is a possibility of the museum being housed in the new heritage centre once it is completed.’
    • ‘The conditions for holding an election do not exist and there are few signs that they will.’
    • ‘He also reminded firms there was no obligation to claim if it is not to the business's advantage.’
    • ‘It was a very odd feeling indeed, trying to inject urgency into coverage when there were no events.’
    • ‘At present there is no real sense in which they are being done away with.’
    • ‘There were fears before the event that it could turn into a Christmas beer festival.’
    • ‘Yet he had a habit of asking awkward questions to which there were no easy answers.’
    • ‘Yet still there were moments she was convinced that this bizarre canine being did actually exist.’
    • ‘At the last count there were at least 316 similar websites and the number is growing.’
    • ‘We built our own counter to save money, but there are loads of extra costs to consider.’
    • ‘As yet, there are no plans to publish a cookery book on the back of the series, but the novel should be out next year.’
    • ‘There was a form of Hebrew that existed before they were conquered.’
    exist, have being, have existence
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Be present.
      ‘there were no curtains around the showers’
      ‘are there any castles in this area?’
      • ‘That hit a Mercedes and there was a small amount of damage to a Jeep parked in front of that.’
      • ‘One eyewitness said there were at least two explosions after the initial blast.’
      • ‘There were a fair amount of people in and around the water, sunning and joking around.’
      • ‘The days we attended there were ample staff on duty but only a fraction of them seemed to be working.’
      • ‘At the side of the house are a parking space, a garage and an enclosed courtyard with York stone flags.’
      • ‘New evidence on the internet suggests there might have been plenty of space at the Inn after all.’
      • ‘There were no decorations on the plain walls.’
      • ‘There was plenty of space for the hundreds of vehicles and we parked easily enough.’
      • ‘There were at least nine of them in the hunting party, in a convoy of three cars.’
      • ‘Was there a swimming pool there?’
      • ‘There were no spare vacant spaces, and at least three cars fought over each one that came free.’
      • ‘A small rupture was found and there was a small amount of blood in her abdomen.’
      • ‘There is a shop on-campus in case you forget anything but its not open 24 hours per day.’
      • ‘The drive this time wasn't as bad as it could have been, but there was a moderate amount of rain.’
      • ‘The drive itself was not too bad, although there was a fair amount of understeer and a little bit of roll.’
      be present, be around, be available, be near, be nearby, be at hand
      View synonyms
  • 2with adverbial Occur; take place.

    ‘the exhibition will be in November’
    ‘the opening event is on October 16’
    ‘that was before the war’
    • ‘Of course, that was before I started receiving 200 resumes for each position.’
    • ‘The party is on Friday and in about half an hour we're going to buy the booze.’
    • ‘The meeting will be in Washington on Tuesday.’
    • ‘That visit, of course, will be in December.’
    occur, happen, take place, come about, arise, crop up, transpire, fall, materialize, ensue
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Occupy a position in space.
      ‘Salvation Street was on his left’
      ‘she was not at the window’
      • ‘The small bottle of sleeping pills was on the sideboard by the lamp.’
      • ‘Flo and Alfie have been in Birkenhead attending the wedding of one of Flo's relatives.’
      • ‘Cheshire police said all the cameras in the county were at blackspots and visible.’
      • ‘The remaining staff members were at the front of the pub finishing up for the end of the evening.’
      • ‘I made us something to eat while she was in the shower.’
      • ‘He had been in Richmond to attend a concert held at one of the local community centres.’
      • ‘Fire investigation teams were at the scene but Mr Firth said it was too early to say what caused the fire.’
      • ‘Police were at the accident scene within minutes but the driver did not need an ambulance.’
      • ‘His wife and children were at his bedside when his life support machine was switched off.’
      • ‘Fire crews and police were at the scene within minutes and later the Honda Civic was taken away.’
      • ‘Soon six fire crews were at the scene and a hydraulic platform was called in from Swindon.’
      • ‘Jennifer and I were travelling by train and were at Carlisle station when we saw the pyres.’
      • ‘Back on the flying cattle truck, our seats were at the front but I felt a bit uncomfortable.’
      • ‘So the car picked us up from the office far earlier than I thought it would, and we were at the hotel by half two.’
      • ‘His wife and children, who he dotes on, were at the seaside so he was having a couple of days of selfish fun.’
      • ‘It was a business and residential address of the Khan family who were at home.’
      • ‘On the plus side, once you were at the top you usually got a nice downhill bit.’
      • ‘She last visited us when we were on the boat in Falmouth when I was 13, and then we lost touch.’
      • ‘The three of us were at the bar.’
      • ‘Brett and I hadn't planned to attend as we'd been up to the family dinner in November.’
      be situated, be located, be found, be present, be set, be positioned, be placed, be installed
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 Stay in the same place or condition.
      ‘he's a tough customer—let him be’
      • ‘We were there for over two hours in the end, emerging blinking and slightly unsteady on our feet after the hot sun and the chilled red wine.’
      • ‘Isabella was there for five weeks and the doctors and nurses were fantastic with her.’
      • ‘They were there for well over an hour before the violence erupted and a call for back-up assistance was made at 5.50 pm.’
      • ‘We were there for two weeks, doing 30 or 40 miles a day with a several loads of camping gear to pull.’
      • ‘They were there for 10 years before moving to the present location in Stephen Street.’
      • ‘Then we were there for about 1 and half hours throwing sticks in the river, to create a barrier to stop the ball from going past that area.’
      • ‘At first she would only stay out for the night, then it was a week, and once she was away from home for five weeks.’
      • ‘We were there for probably about 10 minutes before we finally got one.’
      • ‘They were there for 21 days before they were invited in to meet Haughey and the Taoiseach, Sean Lemass.’
      • ‘Firefighters were there for three hours extinguishing the fire and making sure the house was safe.’
      • ‘They showed up at about 11:00am, and they were there until 5:00pm that evening.’
      • ‘I was there for 30 years and did a huge amount of work for him and it was fantastic.’
      • ‘They were there for two months before they were shipped off to Singapore.’
      • ‘He's been in his room all day.’
      • ‘They were there for twenty hours and were, she said, on the edge of death, when a ship appeared in the distance, charging towards them.’
      • ‘They were there for five weeks, then relieved by the Army when they just were decimated.’
      • ‘I was there for five weeks and the sort of things one saw in that time were absolutely hair-raising.’
      • ‘Some of them were there for nearly a day clinging on for dear life, as they were not able to swim.’
      • ‘We were there for four days and when we were leaving it was snowing heavily.’
      • ‘They were at the scene for 90 minutes, helping to free the victims and clear the road.’
      remain, stay, wait, linger
      View synonyms
    3. 2.3 Attend.
      ‘I'm at school doing A levels’
      • ‘He has been to all the training schools he can make time for.’
      • ‘Last month, other drawings of female nudes were covered when children were at the shows.’
      • ‘I've been to a Cup Match twice before, but this was my first time at Somerset's ground.’
      • ‘They had jobs while they were at university, and even while they were at sixth form college.’
      • ‘Damon's mother and father were at the awards night on Saturday to see their son hand out the medals.’
      • ‘She once took one of her best friends to see him when they were at college.’
      • ‘Along with half a million others, I was at Woodstock I in 1969.’
      • ‘A far cry from when they were at college and what they imagined upon graduation.’
      • ‘I am at Oxford University and am struggling to decide whether to consider further studies in the US or at Cambridge.’
      • ‘I can remember reading that magazine for years and suddenly we were at the awards ceremony.’
      • ‘Don't worry, I'll be there tomorrow.’
      • ‘She's been to business school, and is now a bookkeeper.’
      • ‘Hundreds of other local people were at the match and many had to be treated for injuries.’
      attend, go to, be present, take part
      View synonyms
    4. 2.4 Come; go; visit.
      ‘he's from Missouri’
      ‘I have just been to Thailand’
      ‘the doctor's been twice today’
      • ‘I had only been to Italy as a child and Richard had been twice before and he loved it.’
      • ‘The last three years we've been touring all around Europe and we have even been to Brazil twice.’
      • ‘I have been to pubs where there is someone sitting very close and the smoke has bothered me.’
      • ‘They have been there twice before but hope this time they will make it third time lucky.’
      • ‘She has even been to watch Leeds United with a fellow fan she met on the website.’
  • 3as copular verb Having the state, quality, identity, nature, role, etc., specified.

    ‘Amy was 91’
    ‘the floor was uneven’
    ‘I want to be a teacher’
    ‘father was not well’
    ‘it will be Christmas soon’
    ‘‘Be careful,’ Mr Carter said’
    • ‘Yet there are areas of the country where empty homes exist and still prices are high.’
    • ‘Members of the public are welcome to attend the services which are all free of charge.’
    • ‘Celebrations to mark the big event were on a grand scale and went on for three nights.’
    • ‘These are all paid positions, all training is free and you get paid to do it.’
    • ‘Conditions were so atrocious that the rescue services could also have perished.’
    • ‘Both events were high profile and enabled the public to enjoy a great night out in safety.’
    • ‘Their frustration and confusion over recent events was all too apparent yesterday.’
    • ‘Though the days are short and folk only go out when they must, there is a lot going on.’
    • ‘For treatment of malaria, several drugs exist and a few are relatively inexpensive.’
    • ‘At present blood stock levels in the UK are good, but there is always a need for new donors.’
    • ‘The inquest heard the road was in a poor condition and wet on the day of the crash.’
    • ‘His views on many issues are very representative of the overall results of our survey.’
    • ‘Motorists who grumble about the lack of parking spaces in city centres are selfish and stupid.’
    • ‘He must have been satisfied with the answer because I no longer heard him hollering.’
    • ‘My mock exam grades were also wrong and therefore my predicted grades were wrong.’
    • ‘Her father was an art teacher and she went to sixth form in the school where he taught.’
    • ‘Though it was a sad event, it was also a celebration of the life of a very accomplished and much loved lady.’
    • ‘All the incidents were of a violent nature and included attacks by door staff on customers.’
    • ‘His work in this area was considerable, including studies into the nature of history.’
    • ‘This was a successful event and the committee wishes to thank all those who supported and helped.’
    1. 3.1 Cost.
      ‘the tickets were £25’
      • ‘I went up to the bartender and asked him, ‘how much is that wine?’’
      • ‘‘How much are those?’ a couple of kids asked.’
      • ‘It is £20 per adult or £10 for students and 16-18 year olds.’
      • ‘Tickets for the black tie event are £50 each.’
      • ‘The dress is 500 dollars.’
      cost, be priced at, sell for, be valued at, fetch, come to
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2 Amount to.
      ‘one and one is two’
      • ‘Yes, five tens are fifty.’
      • ‘27 plus 50 is 77.’
      • ‘How much is that in dollars?’
      amount to, come to, add up to, run to, number, make, total, equal, be equal to, be equivalent to, comprise, represent
      View synonyms
    3. 3.3 Represent.
      ‘let A be a square matrix of order n’
      • ‘Let A be the event that the cardholder pays in full, and let B1, B2, B3 be the events that a cardholder owes less than $100, $100 to 500, or more than $500, respectively.’
      • ‘In this story, the owner of the vineyard is God, the keeper of the vineyard is Jesus, and the tree represents God's children.’
      • ‘The pigs represent the principal figures behind the emergence of the Soviet Union—Major and Snowball are Lenin and Trotsky, and Napoleon is Stalin.’
      • ‘If x is the perpendicular distance from the shore to the target, y is the distance from the point on the shore opposite the target to the point at which the dog plunges into the water.’
      • ‘In the allegory, the Scarecrow is the farmers and the Tin Woodman is the urban working class.’
    4. 3.4 Signify.
      ‘we were everything to each other’
      • ‘A million dollars is nothing to these people.’
      • ‘She was the world to him, and his life was not complete without her.’
      • ‘It was just pennies to me, but it was everything for him.’
    5. 3.5 Consist of; constitute.
      ‘the monastery was several three-storey buildings’
      • ‘The house was one large room with a fireplace which served as living room, kitchen and general quarters.’
      • ‘Her bed was a wooden slat, shared with nine people.’
      • ‘The temple is a number of buildings surrounding this man-made pool where devotees gather around and bathe themselves to purify and cure of any sickness.’
      be equivalent to, be the equivalent of, embody, be tantamount to, be regarded as, act as, serve as
      View synonyms
  • 4informal Say.

    ‘last time I saw her she was all ‘You need to quit smoking!’’

auxiliary verb

  • 1Used with a present participle to form continuous tenses.

    ‘they are coming’
    ‘he had been reading’
    ‘she will be waiting’
    • ‘It seems rude not to turn up, especially if only a few people are attending and your absence will be noted.’
    • ‘I can confirm that we are looking at our costs and considering staff restructuring.’
    • ‘Seven fuel cheats were counting the cost of trying to do their driving on the cheap.’
    • ‘Someone had elected to stay sober and was driving us back to Acton where we were living then.’
    • ‘The group were staying at an apartment block when the accident happened on the day they arrived.’
    • ‘Kingston police attended the scene and are investigating the cause of the accident.’
    • ‘She'd been standing waiting for him, the barest hint of a smile on her face.’
    • ‘When we were hosting events like a Valentine's bash, we had to ask guests to wear thermals.’
    • ‘He could hardly claim that he was deferring the cost of expensive medical research.’
    • ‘I was trying to stay calm and hit good shots, trying to hit it straight every time.’
    • ‘The boys were all sitting in the backstage area talking and having a great time.’
    • ‘Given they are investing large amounts of money, of course they have every right to be.’
    • ‘My mother told me I must have been doing something wrong to make them bully me.’
    • ‘Mrs Jones was on her own in her flat that night as her children were staying at her mother's house.’
    • ‘I have been reading many letters with regards to Gravesend and Dartford and how bad they are.’
    • ‘I have been reading this newspaper regularly for years and have never written in before.’
    • ‘A fourth male is believed to have been waiting outside in a white Ford Transit van.’
    • ‘Before the big strike, her brother had been earning what amounted to a double salary.’
    • ‘Police in Florida said investigations into the cause of the crash were continuing.’
    • ‘We were all waiting for the war to end in order to get the money together to get away.’
  • 2Used with a past participle to form the passive voice.

    ‘it was done’
    ‘it is said’
    ‘his book will be published’
    • ‘His voice was drowned by the shattering roar of a jet plane passing over the chimney pot.’
    • ‘One of the students was punched and kicked to the ground and the other was stabbed twice in the chest.’
    • ‘As for the floor of the theatre, the large open space was occupied by a small crowd of people.’
    • ‘The three were sentenced for their role in the operation at Maidstone Crown Court.’
    • ‘A man with a laugh in his voice recounted how he was shot down, landing in a field in his shirt and tie.’
    • ‘The group were accompanied by two representatives of the charity and a Cuban guide.’
    • ‘Miss Frith said she was approached about the event and that she did not hesitate to get involved.’
    • ‘To mark the event children were sponsored to learn spellings and tested on their efforts.’
    • ‘The women were attacked within the space of two hours early on Friday, half a mile apart.’
    • ‘My representative was warned that he would be removed from the Hearing on two occasions.’
    • ‘Touchingly, he drank out of a pint glass that must once have been nicked from an English pub.’
    • ‘He later agreed to take part in an identity parade and was picked out by the girl.’
    • ‘She was grabbed from behind and when she refused to let go of her bag was punched twice in the face.’
    • ‘They will feel a bit sticky, but once they have been dipped in flour they will be easier to handle.’
    • ‘Roads into and out of Albert Square were closed for the duration of the rally.’
    • ‘The brochure advertising events across the borough was delivered to homes last week.’
    • ‘Other district events were organised to help send Robyn for treatment in America.’
    • ‘A couple of weeks ago a book was published in America that elaborated on exactly this theme.’
    • ‘Tapes used by the news media to document the events were damaged or even erased.’
    • ‘An initiative for new and existing sports coaches is being launched by Bolton Council.’
  • 3with infinitive Used to indicate something that is due or destined to happen.

    ‘construction is to begin next summer’
    ‘his mum was never to see him win’
    • ‘More horrors were to follow when I visited the toilet and walked into the ladies.’
    • ‘The general had no idea a Georgian major was to meet with him, nor would he ever meet the major.’
    • ‘Local people are to pass on their parenting know-how to help other mums and dads.’
    • ‘Her son and his fiancee were to be married at the end of May.’
    • ‘Bradford firms are to be made aware of the benefits of employing a diverse workforce at a seminar in the city.’
    • ‘Then all that remained was to persuade the archbishop of Canterbury to anoint him.’
    • ‘Mrs. Bache was given a first and final written warning which was to remain on her file for two years.’
    • ‘The two clubs were to meet at Lismore in a match many considered a grand final preview.’
    • ‘Guido was to remain in hospital for five days, as four wounds in one leg were treated.’
    • ‘The same year he met the girl who was to become his wife and decided to stay on and look for a job.’
    • ‘Now fire chiefs in the county are to meet and discuss their concerns about the worrying trend.’
    • ‘Those who followed the instructions and reported their results were to receive prizes.’
    • ‘In fact Delsarte was to remain on the staff at Nancy for the rest of his career.’
    • ‘I was to meet up with my two travelling companions in an open air restaurant on edge of Timbuctou.’
    • ‘She opened a family grocery that grew and prospered in the years that were to follow.’
    • ‘Thousands more merchant seafarers were to lose their lives on the convoys that followed.’
    • ‘He was to remain a friend of Dee's throughout his life and undertook joint work with him.’
    • ‘Leaflets outlining the scheme are to be delivered to homes in the immediate area in the coming weeks.’
    • ‘They were to meet in a restaurant and pose as two friends trying to patch up some hard times.’
    • ‘The same plane was to be used for a noon flight from Manchester to Washington on Saturday.’
    1. 3.1 Used to express obligation or necessity.
      ‘you are to follow these orders’
      ‘they said I was to remain on board’
      • ‘The coupons had values on them which were to be given to the bar staff in exchange for alcohol.’
      • ‘However, in all situations you are to use no more force than absolutely necessary.’
      • ‘She had treated me with contempt, and the only way to cope with my feelings was to be hateful towards her.’
      • ‘The rest were to follow in alphabetical order.’
      • ‘The goods or chattels are to remain in the custody of the bailiffs for twenty days.’
      • ‘They were to do whatever they felt necessary or advisable to fulfil that function.’
      • ‘I was brought up in an environment where money was to be used rather than hoarded.’
    2. 3.2 Used to express possibility.
      ‘these snakes are to be found in North America’
      ‘she was nowhere to be seen’
      • ‘Monkeys are to be found around the crop growing and savanna areas.’
      • ‘The gunman was nowhere to be seen.’
      • ‘She was to be found here too.’
      • ‘Neither a dialling nor an engaged tone was to be heard, only the sound of a line that had been pulled.’
    3. 3.3 Used to hypothesize about something that might happen.
      ‘if I were to lose’
      ‘if I was to tell you, you'd think I was mad’
      • ‘If they were to follow the guidelines and correctly fill the bins this wouldn't be a problem.’
      • ‘If we were to be castaways on a desert island, these are the goods we would pack by the caseload.’
      • ‘He says it would be the ultimate irony if the home of a man devoted to conserving York were to be pulled down.’
      • ‘If this were to be carried out for all councillors, then our council chambers would be empty.’
      • ‘Imagine, if you will, what would happen if the concept were to be transferred to racing.’
      • ‘If there was to be an area for smokers then many younger students would take advantage of this.’
      • ‘There'd have to be some serious changes around here if I were to go on for that length of time.’
      • ‘If I was to meet someone myself then that would be fine but this way I have the back up.’
      • ‘If you were to meet me at a party I would not talk about myself in any great depth and I had no intention of doing so on the web.’
      • ‘If I were to keep a reading diary like this, what would my twelve favourite books be?’
      • ‘There is a lot to be said about the violation of this freedom if a ban were to be imposed.’
      • ‘If it were to go ahead it would have to be ratified by the Secretary of State.’
      • ‘If the licence fee were to go, and a voluntary subscription were to be introduced, who would pay?’
      • ‘If this were to be implemented, it would strike fundamental blows to British science.’
      • ‘If there were an easy answer, better brains than mine would surely have found it by now.’
      • ‘What if you were to be swayed by the promise of, say, sexual favours or a Busted album, or summat?’
      • ‘If I were to order costs, that is a point that counsel could take before the costs judge.’
      • ‘So I wouldn't be that upset if smoking were to be banned in restaurants and bars.’
      • ‘Early on Sunday, they declared it would be a miracle if anyone else were to be found alive.’
  • 4archaic Used with the past participle of intransitive verbs to form perfect tenses.

    ‘I am returned’

Usage

For a discussion of whether it is correct to say that must be he at the door and it is I rather than that must be him at the door and it is me, see personal pronoun

Phrases

  • as/that was

    • As someone or something was previously called.

      ‘former Sex Pistol John Lydon (Rotten, as was)’
      • ‘I was in Yugoslavia, as was, at the time.’
      • ‘He was very friendly and turned out to have gone to the London College of Communication (or London School of Printing, as was) himself, which is always useful when arranging work experience.’
  • the be-all and end-all

    • informal A feature of an activity or a way of life that is of greater importance than any other.

      ‘is food and comfort the be-all and end-all?’
      • ‘‘Love is not the be-all and end-all of life, it is only a part of life’, she says.’
      • ‘Whilst qualifications are not the be-all and end-all of life, I am intensely proud of my achievements.’
      • ‘I still love acting but it's not the be-all and end-all any more.’
      • ‘Already there is talk of him standing down after his next term, with close associates saying that he never really regarded politics as the be-all and end-all.’
      • ‘Although she was extremely bright, her school work took a bit of a back seat, but over the years it's made me realise that academic achievement isn't the be-all and end-all of a young person's life.’
      • ‘‘I wanted to show that having a husband and children isn't the be-all and end-all, it's not nirvana either personally or otherwise’.’
      • ‘My desire to win is as strong as when I was 17, but a lot has happened to make me realise football is not the be-all and end-all.’
      • ‘A lot of people see speed cameras as the be-all and end-all of traffic management.’
      • ‘Price, he said, is not the be-all and end-all for drinkers.’
      • ‘From what I have seen, London is not all bright lights, trendy bars and happy people - it certainly is not the be-all and end-all.’
  • be at

    • informal Be doing or trying to do.

      ‘what are you at there?’
      • ‘What is he at, opening his bloody mouth in the first place?’
      • ‘What about Michelle, what is she at these days?’
      • ‘The question is just what are they at now?’
      • ‘‘So, what are you at now?’ I asked, just for conversation's sake.’
  • be away

    • dialect Leave or set out at once.

      ‘I'm away to my work’
      • ‘I'd better be away - packing is so tiring, particularly as I'm not allowed to do it my way.’
      • ‘Up early tomorrow so that's me away for the night.’
      • ‘Anyway, once they were away at last, we began making the space beautiful.’
  • be off

    • often in imperativeGo away; leave.

      ‘be off with you!’
      • ‘As usual I was keen to be off so we arrived at the bus station with 15 minutes to wait for the bus up to the airport.’
      • ‘And now be off with you, for I am going to sleep.’
      • ‘I've just had a call to say that things have moved on a bit, so we might be off again tomorrow morning.’
      go away, depart, leave, take off, get out, get out of my sight
      View synonyms
  • be oneself

    • Act naturally, according to one's character and instincts.

      ‘I want him to have the confidence to be himself’
      • ‘You're a cool girl, so conjure up some confidence and just be yourself.’
      • ‘So I just had to be myself, unless the character demanded something outside of my own personality.’
      • ‘This leadership contest could be the making of the man in the public's eyes, and give him the confidence to relax and be himself.’
      • ‘Indulgence is not a bad word as far as you're concerned, your confidence in being yourself is what matters more than all that.’
      • ‘By just being myself I naturally attract the type of people I would otherwise want to attract and repel the people I would otherwise want to repel.’
      • ‘The result is a satisfying motion picture that wins its audience over because the characters are allowed to be themselves.’
      • ‘Be natural, be yourself and your conversation won't sound contrived.’
      • ‘You should be yourself most of the time and act naturally.’
      • ‘Let them know you're interested with lots of eye contact and having the confidence to be yourself.’
      • ‘Inner beauty is all about confidence: the confidence to be yourself, and do what you want to do.’
  • been (or been and gone) and —

    • informal Used to express surprise or annoyance at someone's actions.

      ‘they've been and carted Mum off to hospital’
      • ‘Well I've only been and gone and done it!’
      • ‘I've been and gone and caught another chill’
      • ‘He's only been and gone again - I don't suppose you could get round there and tell him to get back could you?’
  • not be oneself

    • Not feel in one's usual physical or mental state.

      ‘I'm not myself this morning’
      • ‘For that matter, you were not yourself yesterday, and you will not be tomorrow.’
      • ‘Funny things were happening to me and I was simply not myself.’
      • ‘I'm not really myself right now.’
      • ‘He's just not himself today.’
      • ‘With his head down, he was positively not himself this morning.’
      pale, pasty-faced, pasty, wan, drained, washed out, drawn, pallid, colourless, anaemic, bloodless, whey-faced, ashen, ashen-faced, ashy, grey, pinched, sickly, sallow, as white as a ghost, as white as a sheet, deathly pale, cadaverous, corpse-like, ill-looking, sickly-looking
      View synonyms
  • not to be

    • Not destined to come about.

      ‘everyone wanted a happy ending, but it was not to be’
      • ‘She does want to have a child but that's not to be.’
      • ‘I sort of hoped we'd be stuck and adopted by another local family but it was not to be.’
      • ‘I have always wanted a brother but it was not to be.’
      • ‘Hopes had been high that this could be the year for them to stamp their class on the competition but it was not to be.’
      • ‘I'm sure Denis would much prefer to be going in to Sunday's match on the back of a win but it was not to be.’
  • were it not for

    • Used in forming a clause expressing that a specified person or thing prevented a particular outcome.

      ‘were it not for the strikes, we would have seen much better results’
      ‘I would have had fun on the vacation were it not for this’
      • ‘If it were not for the fact that the cost per hour of being here is remarkably high, I would recommend that everyone work this way.’
      • ‘Regardless of where she studies, it would be impossible were it not for financial aid.’
      • ‘I don't know how this all would have turned out if it were not for the amazing support I received from the blogging community.’
      • ‘The inclusion of picking locks could've been a great feature of the game, were it not for the fact that it becomes so incredibly easy that you can sleepwalk through every door and chest.’
      • ‘We would not have made the progress we've made were it not for the support of the president.’

Origin

Old English bēon, an irregular and defective verb, whose full conjugation derives from several originally distinct verbs. The forms am and is are from an Indo-European root shared by Latin sum and est. The forms was and were are from an Indo-European root meaning ‘remain’. The forms be and been are from an Indo-European root shared by Latin fui ‘I was’, fio ‘I become’, and Greek phuein ‘bring forth, cause to grow’. The origin of are is uncertain.

Pronunciation

be

/biː/

Main definitions of be in English

: be1Be2BE3

Be2

  • The chemical element beryllium.

Main definitions of be in English

: be1Be2BE3

BE3

abbreviation

  • 1Bachelor of Education.

    come from, be from, be a native of, have been born in, originate in, have one's roots in
    View synonyms
  • 2Bachelor of Engineering.

  • 3Bill of exchange.