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’
    • ‘The conditions for holding an election do not exist and there are few signs that they will.’
    • ‘It was a very odd feeling indeed, trying to inject urgency into coverage when there were no events.’
    • ‘There were at least three road closures for maintenance today between here and Boston.’
    • ‘He also reminded firms there was no obligation to claim if it is not to the business's advantage.’
    • ‘Sources close to the president say there were at least six plots to kill him in 2002.’
    • ‘There are more than enough wrecks to keep divers happy for years to come.’
    • ‘He has a boundless voice, there are no real limits to his range as a tenor and he is a joy to listen to.’
    • ‘At present there is no real sense in which they are being done away with.’
    • ‘After the horrors in Madrid there was a huge amount of media coverage and worldwide sympathy.’
    • ‘There were fears before the event that it could turn into a Christmas beer festival.’
    • ‘He added that there is a possibility of the museum being housed in the new heritage centre once it is completed.’
    • ‘In every constituency there are men and women who want to rescue the party from the cuckoos in its nest.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Yet still there were moments she was convinced that this bizarre canine being did actually exist.’
    • ‘There was no publicity of the programme of events, or even that there was a programme of events.’
    • ‘We built our own counter to save money, but there are loads of extra costs to consider.’
    • ‘There was a form of Hebrew that existed before they were conquered.’
    • ‘There were at least three hundred souls in the town who had been on the verge of starvation.’
    • ‘Yet he had a habit of asking awkward questions to which there were no easy answers.’
    • ‘At the last count there were at least 316 similar websites and the number is growing.’
    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?’
      • ‘One eyewitness said there were at least two explosions after the initial blast.’
      • ‘At the side of the house are a parking space, a garage and an enclosed courtyard with York stone flags.’
      • ‘That hit a Mercedes and there was a small amount of damage to a Jeep parked in front of that.’
      • ‘There is a shop on-campus in case you forget anything but its not open 24 hours per day.’
      • ‘There were no decorations on the plain walls.’
      • ‘There were a fair amount of people in and around the water, sunning and joking around.’
      • ‘Was there a swimming pool there?’
      • ‘The drive itself was not too bad, although there was a fair amount of understeer and a little bit of roll.’
      • ‘There was plenty of space for the hundreds of vehicles and we parked easily enough.’
      • ‘The days we attended there were ample staff on duty but only a fraction of them seemed to be working.’
      • ‘The drive this time wasn't as bad as it could have been, but there was a moderate amount of rain.’
      • ‘There were no spare vacant spaces, and at least three cars fought over each one that came free.’
      • ‘New evidence on the internet suggests there might have been plenty of space at the Inn after all.’
      • ‘A small rupture was found and there was a small amount of blood in her abdomen.’
      • ‘There were at least nine of them in the hunting party, in a convoy of three cars.’
      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’
    • ‘That visit, of course, will be in December.’
    • ‘The meeting will be in Washington on Tuesday.’
    • ‘The party is on Friday and in about half an hour we're going to buy the booze.’
    • ‘Of course, that was before I started receiving 200 resumes for each position.’
    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 remaining staff members were at the front of the pub finishing up for the end of the evening.’
      • ‘Fire crews and police were at the scene within minutes and later the Honda Civic was taken away.’
      • ‘She last visited us when we were on the boat in Falmouth when I was 13, and then we lost touch.’
      • ‘His wife and children, who he dotes on, were at the seaside so he was having a couple of days of selfish fun.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Flo and Alfie have been in Birkenhead attending the wedding of one of Flo's relatives.’
      • ‘Soon six fire crews were at the scene and a hydraulic platform was called in from Swindon.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Jennifer and I were travelling by train and were at Carlisle station when we saw the pyres.’
      • ‘I made us something to eat while she was in the shower.’
      • ‘Police were at the accident scene within minutes but the driver did not need an ambulance.’
      • ‘The small bottle of sleeping pills was on the sideboard by the lamp.’
      • ‘Back on the flying cattle truck, our seats were at the front but I felt a bit uncomfortable.’
      • ‘He had been in Richmond to attend a concert held at one of the local community centres.’
      • ‘His wife and children were at his bedside when his life support machine was switched off.’
      • ‘Fire investigation teams were at the scene but Mr Firth said it was too early to say what caused the fire.’
      • ‘Cheshire police said all the cameras in the county were at blackspots and visible.’
      • ‘On the plus side, once you were at the top you usually got a nice downhill bit.’
      • ‘It was a business and residential address of the Khan family who were at home.’
      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’
      • ‘They were there for two months before they were shipped off to Singapore.’
      • ‘Firefighters were there for three hours extinguishing the fire and making sure the house was safe.’
      • ‘We were there for four days and when we were leaving it was snowing heavily.’
      • ‘Some of them were there for nearly a day clinging on for dear life, as they were not able to swim.’
      • ‘I was there for five weeks and the sort of things one saw in that time were absolutely hair-raising.’
      • ‘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 two weeks, doing 30 or 40 miles a day with a several loads of camping gear to pull.’
      • ‘They were at the scene for 90 minutes, helping to free the victims and clear the road.’
      • ‘They were there for five weeks, then relieved by the Army when they just were decimated.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He's been in his room all day.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We were there for probably about 10 minutes before we finally got one.’
      • ‘I was there for 30 years and did a huge amount of work for him and it was fantastic.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Isabella was there for five weeks and the doctors and nurses were fantastic with her.’
      • ‘They showed up at about 11:00am, and they were there until 5:00pm that evening.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They were there for 21 days before they were invited in to meet Haughey and the Taoiseach, Sean Lemass.’
      • ‘They were there for 10 years before moving to the present location in Stephen Street.’
      remain, stay, wait, linger
      View synonyms
    3. 2.3 Attend.
      ‘I'm at school doing A levels’
      • ‘Don't worry, I'll be there tomorrow.’
      • ‘She once took one of her best friends to see him when they were at college.’
      • ‘He has been to all the training schools he can make time for.’
      • ‘Damon's mother and father were at the awards night on Saturday to see their son hand out the medals.’
      • ‘She's been to business school, and is now a bookkeeper.’
      • ‘Last month, other drawings of female nudes were covered when children were at the shows.’
      • ‘I can remember reading that magazine for years and suddenly we were at the awards ceremony.’
      • ‘I've been to a Cup Match twice before, but this was my first time at Somerset's ground.’
      • ‘Hundreds of other local people were at the match and many had to be treated for injuries.’
      • ‘They had jobs while they were at university, and even while they were at sixth form college.’
      • ‘Along with half a million others, I was at Woodstock I in 1969.’
      • ‘I am at Oxford University and am struggling to decide whether to consider further studies in the US or at Cambridge.’
      • ‘A far cry from when they were at college and what they imagined upon graduation.’
      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’
      • ‘They have been there twice before but hope this time they will make it third time lucky.’
      • ‘I have been to pubs where there is someone sitting very close and the smoke has bothered me.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’
    • ‘His views on many issues are very representative of the overall results of our survey.’
    • ‘Though it was a sad event, it was also a celebration of the life of a very accomplished and much loved lady.’
    • ‘Both events were high profile and enabled the public to enjoy a great night out in safety.’
    • ‘The inquest heard the road was in a poor condition and wet on the day of the crash.’
    • ‘Yet there are areas of the country where empty homes exist and still prices are high.’
    • ‘All the incidents were of a violent nature and included attacks by door staff on customers.’
    • ‘Her father was an art teacher and she went to sixth form in the school where he taught.’
    • ‘Motorists who grumble about the lack of parking spaces in city centres are selfish and stupid.’
    • ‘At present blood stock levels in the UK are good, but there is always a need for new donors.’
    • ‘These are all paid positions, all training is free and you get paid to do it.’
    • ‘Their frustration and confusion over recent events was all too apparent yesterday.’
    • ‘My mock exam grades were also wrong and therefore my predicted grades were wrong.’
    • ‘Members of the public are welcome to attend the services which are all free of charge.’
    • ‘He must have been satisfied with the answer because I no longer heard him hollering.’
    • ‘Though the days are short and folk only go out when they must, there is a lot going on.’
    • ‘His work in this area was considerable, including studies into the nature of history.’
    • ‘Celebrations to mark the big event were on a grand scale and went on for three nights.’
    • ‘Conditions were so atrocious that the rescue services could also have perished.’
    • ‘For treatment of malaria, several drugs exist and a few are relatively inexpensive.’
    • ‘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?’’
      • ‘Tickets for the black tie event are £50 each.’
      • ‘‘How much are those?’ a couple of kids asked.’
      • ‘It is £20 per adult or £10 for students and 16-18 year olds.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘In this story, the owner of the vineyard is God, the keeper of the vineyard is Jesus, and the tree represents God's children.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 the allegory, the Scarecrow is the farmers and the Tin Woodman is the urban working class.’
      • ‘The pigs represent the principal figures behind the emergence of the Soviet Union—Major and Snowball are Lenin and Trotsky, and Napoleon is Stalin.’
    4. 3.4 Signify.
      ‘we were everything to each other’
      • ‘She was the world to him, and his life was not complete without her.’
      • ‘A million dollars is nothing to these people.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
    • ‘Given they are investing large amounts of money, of course they have every right to be.’
    • ‘She'd been standing waiting for him, the barest hint of a smile on her face.’
    • ‘It seems rude not to turn up, especially if only a few people are attending and your absence will be noted.’
    • ‘A fourth male is believed to have been waiting outside in a white Ford Transit van.’
    • ‘We were all waiting for the war to end in order to get the money together to get away.’
    • ‘I was trying to stay calm and hit good shots, trying to hit it straight every time.’
    • ‘I can confirm that we are looking at our costs and considering staff restructuring.’
    • ‘The boys were all sitting in the backstage area talking and having a great time.’
    • ‘He could hardly claim that he was deferring the cost of expensive medical research.’
    • ‘Before the big strike, her brother had been earning what amounted to a double salary.’
    • ‘My mother told me I must have been doing something wrong to make them bully me.’
    • ‘Seven fuel cheats were counting the cost of trying to do their driving on the cheap.’
    • ‘When we were hosting events like a Valentine's bash, we had to ask guests to wear thermals.’
    • ‘Someone had elected to stay sober and was driving us back to Acton where we were living then.’
    • ‘Mrs Jones was on her own in her flat that night as her children were staying at her mother's house.’
    • ‘Police in Florida said investigations into the cause of the crash were continuing.’
    • ‘I have been reading this newspaper regularly for years and have never written in before.’
    • ‘The group were staying at an apartment block when the accident happened on the day they arrived.’
    • ‘I have been reading many letters with regards to Gravesend and Dartford and how bad they are.’
    • ‘Kingston police attended the scene and are investigating the cause of the accident.’
  • 2Used with a past participle to form the passive voice.

    ‘it was done’
    ‘it is said’
    ‘his book will be published’
    • ‘One of the students was punched and kicked to the ground and the other was stabbed twice in the chest.’
    • ‘Miss Frith said she was approached about the event and that she did not hesitate to get involved.’
    • ‘She was grabbed from behind and when she refused to let go of her bag was punched twice in the face.’
    • ‘He later agreed to take part in an identity parade and was picked out by the girl.’
    • ‘Roads into and out of Albert Square were closed for the duration of the rally.’
    • ‘An initiative for new and existing sports coaches is being launched by Bolton Council.’
    • ‘As for the floor of the theatre, the large open space was occupied by a small crowd of people.’
    • ‘Tapes used by the news media to document the events were damaged or even erased.’
    • ‘The women were attacked within the space of two hours early on Friday, half a mile apart.’
    • ‘To mark the event children were sponsored to learn spellings and tested on their efforts.’
    • ‘Touchingly, he drank out of a pint glass that must once have been nicked from an English pub.’
    • ‘My representative was warned that he would be removed from the Hearing on two occasions.’
    • ‘His voice was drowned by the shattering roar of a jet plane passing over the chimney pot.’
    • ‘Other district events were organised to help send Robyn for treatment in America.’
    • ‘A man with a laugh in his voice recounted how he was shot down, landing in a field in his shirt and tie.’
    • ‘They will feel a bit sticky, but once they have been dipped in flour they will be easier to handle.’
    • ‘A couple of weeks ago a book was published in America that elaborated on exactly this theme.’
    • ‘The group were accompanied by two representatives of the charity and a Cuban guide.’
    • ‘The three were sentenced for their role in the operation at Maidstone Crown Court.’
    • ‘The brochure advertising events across the borough was delivered to homes last week.’
  • 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’
    • ‘The two clubs were to meet at Lismore in a match many considered a grand final preview.’
    • ‘In fact Delsarte was to remain on the staff at Nancy for the rest of his career.’
    • ‘The same plane was to be used for a noon flight from Manchester to Washington on Saturday.’
    • ‘Bradford firms are to be made aware of the benefits of employing a diverse workforce at a seminar in the city.’
    • ‘He was to remain a friend of Dee's throughout his life and undertook joint work with him.’
    • ‘The general had no idea a Georgian major was to meet with him, nor would he ever meet the major.’
    • ‘Guido was to remain in hospital for five days, as four wounds in one leg were treated.’
    • ‘Then all that remained was to persuade the archbishop of Canterbury to anoint him.’
    • ‘Thousands more merchant seafarers were to lose their lives on the convoys that followed.’
    • ‘More horrors were to follow when I visited the toilet and walked into the ladies.’
    • ‘They were to meet in a restaurant and pose as two friends trying to patch up some hard times.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Now fire chiefs in the county are to meet and discuss their concerns about the worrying trend.’
    • ‘Local people are to pass on their parenting know-how to help other mums and dads.’
    • ‘Those who followed the instructions and reported their results were to receive prizes.’
    • ‘The same year he met the girl who was to become his wife and decided to stay on and look for a job.’
    • ‘Leaflets outlining the scheme are to be delivered to homes in the immediate area in the coming weeks.’
    • ‘Mrs. Bache was given a first and final written warning which was to remain on her file for two years.’
    • ‘Her son and his fiancee were to be married at the end of May.’
    1. 3.1 Used to express obligation or necessity.
      ‘you are to follow these orders’
      ‘they said I was to remain on board’
      • ‘The goods or chattels are to remain in the custody of the bailiffs for twenty days.’
      • ‘The coupons had values on them which were to be given to the bar staff in exchange for alcohol.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I was brought up in an environment where money was to be used rather than hoarded.’
      • ‘They were to do whatever they felt necessary or advisable to fulfil that function.’
      • ‘However, in all situations you are to use no more force than absolutely necessary.’
    2. 3.2 Used to express possibility.
      ‘these snakes are to be found in North America’
      ‘she was nowhere to be seen’
      • ‘She was to be found here too.’
      • ‘The gunman was nowhere to be seen.’
      • ‘Monkeys are to be found around the crop growing and savanna areas.’
      • ‘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 there were an easy answer, better brains than mine would surely have found it by now.’
      • ‘If I were to order costs, that is a point that counsel could take before the costs judge.’
      • ‘There is a lot to be said about the violation of this freedom if a ban were to be imposed.’
      • ‘If this were to be carried out for all councillors, then our council chambers would be empty.’
      • ‘If this were to be implemented, it would strike fundamental blows to British science.’
      • ‘If we were to be castaways on a desert island, these are the goods we would pack by the caseload.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Early on Sunday, they declared it would be a miracle if anyone else were to be found alive.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Imagine, if you will, what would happen if the concept were to be transferred to racing.’
      • ‘If I were to keep a reading diary like this, what would my twelve favourite books be?’
      • ‘If the licence fee were to go, and a voluntary subscription were to be introduced, who would pay?’
      • ‘If it were to go ahead it would have to be ratified by the Secretary of State.’
      • ‘He says it would be the ultimate irony if the home of a man devoted to conserving York were to be pulled down.’
      • ‘If there was to be an area for smokers then many younger students would take advantage of this.’
      • ‘So I wouldn't be that upset if smoking were to be banned in restaurants and bars.’
      • ‘What if you were to be swayed by the promise of, say, sexual favours or a Busted album, or summat?’
      • ‘If they were to follow the guidelines and correctly fill the bins this wouldn't be a problem.’
  • 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)’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I was in Yugoslavia, as was, at the time.’
  • 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?’
      • ‘‘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’.’
      • ‘I still love acting but it's not the be-all and end-all any more.’
      • ‘A lot of people see speed cameras as the be-all and end-all of traffic management.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Price, he said, is not the be-all and end-all for drinkers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • be at

    • informal Be doing or trying to do.

      ‘what are you at there?’
      • ‘‘So, what are you at now?’ I asked, just for conversation's sake.’
      • ‘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?’
  • be away

    • dialect Leave or set out at once.

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

    • often in imperativeGo away; leave.

      ‘be off with you!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘Inner beauty is all about confidence: the confidence to be yourself, and do what you want to do.’
      • ‘Be natural, be yourself and your conversation won't sound contrived.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You should be yourself most of the time and act naturally.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Indulgence is not a bad word as far as you're concerned, your confidence in being yourself is what matters more than all that.’
      • ‘You're a cool girl, so conjure up some confidence and just be yourself.’
      • ‘The result is a satisfying motion picture that wins its audience over because the characters are allowed to be themselves.’
      • ‘Let them know you're interested with lots of eye contact and having the confidence to be yourself.’
  • 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’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Well I've only been and gone and done it!’
  • been there, done that

    • Used to express past experience of or overfamiliarity with something.

      ‘I've been there, done that, got the video and the T-shirt’
      • ‘Dawn was a serial dater with a world-weary attitude: been there, done that, got the frog-kissing badge.’
      • ‘He's been there, done that, stood the test of time as an artist, and he's only 23.’
      • ‘It sometimes just feels like I've been there, done that!’
      • ‘Yes, when it comes to writing 50,000 word novels in a month, I've been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.’
      • ‘However, whenever the subject of marriage comes up, Bob says he's been there, done that, laughs, and changes the subject.’
      • ‘Hey, where technology is concerned, we have all been there, done that.’
      • ‘I've been there, done that, now I'm over it, at least for now.’
      • ‘But for the savvy traveler who has been there, done that, Tokyo offers hidden charms to rejuvenate the heart and relieve the soles.’
      • ‘I've been there, done that - it's for the younger players.’
      • ‘I can quite confidently say that I've been there, done that, and come back.’
  • be that as it may

    • Despite that; nevertheless.

      • ‘But, be that as it may, let me offer my simple explanation.’
      • ‘But be that as it may, they ought to be thankful they can hold those positions into the new year.’
      • ‘But be that as it may, if you can get instructions from someone when they are capable, that's sufficient, irrespective of whether the next day they become incapable.’
      • ‘Anyway, be that as it may, I thought he was the most talented man on Earth.’
      • ‘But, be that as it may, he was bugging her, and she told him to go shove it.’
      • ‘But be that as it may, it happened and it's yesterday's affair.’
      • ‘But be that as it may, we'd no notion of bringing trouble like this down on your house.’
      • ‘Well, anyway, be that as it may, we have to wrap up here.’
      • ‘It's really difficult, but be that as it may, we are able to get by with the first ship last week, and hopefully we can get that cargo out of the transit sheds and off the docks and to the market.’
      • ‘But be that as it may, that's not the important issue.’
      in spite of everything, in spite of that, nonetheless, even so, however, but, still, yet, though, be that as it may, for all that, despite everything, despite that, after everything, having said that, that said, just the same, all the same, at the same time, in any event, come what may, at any rate, notwithstanding, regardless, anyway, anyhow
      View synonyms
  • not be oneself

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

      ‘I'm not myself this morning’
      • ‘With his head down, he was positively not himself this morning.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For that matter, you were not yourself yesterday, and you will not be tomorrow.’
  • 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 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.’
      • ‘I sort of hoped we'd be stuck and adopted by another local family 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We would not have made the progress we've made were it not for the support of the president.’
      • ‘Regardless of where she studies, it would be impossible were it not for financial aid.’
      • ‘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.’

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

  • 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.