Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • Completely; thoroughly; excessively. Used as an intensive: bemuse.
  • On; around; over: besmear.
  • About; to: bespeak.
  • Used to form transitive verbs from nouns, adjectives, and intransitive verbs, as:
  • To make; cause to become: bedim.
  • To affect, cover, or provide: bespectacled.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • By, near, next to, around, close to.
  • Around; about.
  • About, regarding, concerning, over.
  • On, upon, at, to, in contact with something.
  • Off, away, over, across
  • As an intensifier; i.e. thoroughly, excessively; completely; utterly.
  • All around; about; abundantly; all over.
  • Forming verbs derived from nouns or adjectives, usually with the sense of "to make, become, or cause to be".
  • Used to intensify adjectives meaning "adorned with something" often those with the suffix -ed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To intensify the meaning.
  • To render an intransitive verb transitive.
  • To make the action of a verb particular or definite.

Etymologies

Middle English bi-, be-, from Old English be-, bi-; see ambhi in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English be-, bi-, from Old English be- ("be-"), from Proto-Germanic *bi- (“be-”), from Proto-Germanic *bi (“near, by”). See by. Cognate with Dutch be- ("be-"), German be- ("be-"), Swedish be- ("be-"). More at by. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I knew who my heroes were and would cling to them with all my might, my surviving legacies of what I could be- a superior id in underoos.

    What Comes With the Recession of Time

  • Since I'd seen it before, I knew that while the Hope Diamond is rather big for a cut diamond, and especially for a rare blue diamond, it's not as big as most people imagine it will be- it's about the size of a walnut.

    Zoe P. Strassfield: Space History in DC -- Better the Second Time

  • If this is a political strategy, and he seems to be-

    Will America Take a Hike?

  • OWS is not in itself important—it is obvious at this point that it's less a political movement than a be-in.

    This Is No Time for Moderation

  • "The real sad thing is if somebody is accused, does the perp-walk, and turns out not to be- have been guilty," he said then.

    Mayor Backtracks on 'Perp Walks'

  • It's called the use tax, and each year, on your tax return for the state, you're supposed to be-

    FAIR Thee Well?

  • And it was all happening be- cause he refused to let that ghostly whatever-it-was taunt him this way.

    Star Trek® New Frontier

  • I think these guys do a good job articulating why that may be- as they say, a phenomenon whose phenology is controlled by photo-period ought to exhibit greater stability than other physiological processes.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Because Miracle Mile is emblematic-not just of the city Los Angeles once was but of the city it is be- coming, where sprawl and freeways, speed and light, have begun to yield to something smaller and more localized.

    Forbes.com: News

  • You'll never be- lieve who I'm talking to - yes, right now,' and simultaneously rapping Mukti smartly on the forehead, which as he explained sotto voce to Busner, was the command for him to withdraw.

    The Guardian World News

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