Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To perceive by the visual faculty; see: beheld a tiny figure in the distance.
  • transitive v. To perceive through use of the mental faculty; comprehend: "Behold the man of the future” ( Jerry Adler).
  • transitive v. To look upon; gaze at: We beheld a beautiful vista before us. See Synonyms at see1.
  • intransitive v. Used in the imperative for the purpose of calling attention.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To see, or to look at.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To direct the eyes to, or fix them upon, an object; to look; to see.
  • transitive v. To have in sight; to see clearly; to look at; to regard with the eyes.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To hold by; keep; retain.
  • To hold; keep; observe (a command).
  • To hold in view; fix the eyes upon; look at; see with attention; observe with care.
  • Synonyms Observe, Witness, etc. (see see); look upon, consider, eye, view, survey, contemplate, regard.
  • To look; direct the eyes to an object; view; see: in a physical sense.
  • To fix the attention upon an object; attend; direct or fix the mind: in this sense used chiefly in the imperative, being frequently little more than an exclamation calling attention, or expressive of wonder, admiration, and the like.
  • To feel obliged or bound.
  • In astrology, to cast (an aspect).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. see with attention

Etymologies

Middle English biholden, from Old English behaldan : be-, be- + healdan, to hold; see hold1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English beholden, from Old English behealdan ("to hold, have, occupy, possess, guard, preserve, contain, belong, keep, observe, consider, behold, look at, gaze on, see, signify, avail, effect, take care, beware, be cautious, restrain, act, behave"), from Proto-Germanic *bihaldanan (“to hold with, keep”), equivalent to be- +‎ hold. Cognate with Dutch behouden ("to keep, restrain, preserve"), German behalten ("to keep, restrain, remember"), Danish and Norwegian beholde ("to keep") and Swedish behålla ("to keep"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "Until we reach Melzarr," he had said with passion to the two gentlemen, -- "until I can stand before my Master and behold him embrace his son -- _behold_ him -- I implore that I may not lose sight of him night or day.

    The Lost Prince

  • He accepts it and, lo and behold, is still an ID proponent.

    Behe, Common Descent, & UD

  • For this purpose I will preserve my life: to execute this dear revenge, will I again behold the sun, and tread the green herbage of earth, which otherwise should vanish from my eyes for ever.

    Chapter 7

  • Shows that would not stand up to watching again – behold my sadness.

    KAMN Show #29: Voicemail Show : The Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas

  • But, as we were going out from him we saw a ruinous hut behind his house and going in behold, we found the black standing there.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • I saw signs of newly dug graves, and then I imagined to myself, "O God, he has been buried, and I shall never again behold him!"

    The Autobiography of Liuetenant-General Sir Harry Smith, Baronet of Aliwal on the Sutlej, G. C. B.

  • So I came near enough to the surface to view the dark alleys, the narrow streets, the dark, brick walls of houses huddled together, and I longed to fly from them and again behold the beautiful country; but I was compelled to linger in each city and visit hundreds of places of which I had heard but had never seen – every garret, cellar, workshop or workroom in which poor half-paid working women toiled.

    Man's Rights: or, How Would You Like It?

  • Beautiful to behold is a fair young female in the soft slumber of health and innocence, but far more beautiful when startled to consciousness from her gentle rest, and bright colours chase one another across her cheeks and bosom.

    Life in the Rocky Mountains

  • I. Piere Savetier, behold, is from France just arriv'd,

    A Favourite Song

  • I wish they may hatch it themselves! but it is one of that unlucky hue which has so often been addled; in short, behold another secret expedition.

    The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 3

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Comments

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  • Behold denotes a looking with interest or fixed observation.

    To see, on the other hand, can be the result of either voluntary or involuntary looking. The flash of lightning is only just seen and disappears.

    Curiosity prompts us to look, interest causes us to behold, and nature enables us to see.

    Charles Smith, Synonyms Discriminated

    April 20, 2011

  • see lo.

    September 18, 2007