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

  • n. The inner room or parlor of a house with two rooms.
  • adv. Inside; within.
  • prep. Within.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • prep. In, into.
  • adj. Inner, interior.
  • n. Ben-room: The inner room of a two-room hut or shack (as opposed to the but).
  • n. A prayer; a petition.
  • n. A tree, Moringa oleifera or horseradish tree of Arabia and India, which produces oil of ben.
  • n. The winged seed of the ben tree.
  • n. The oil of the ben seed.
  • n. Son of (used with Hebrew and Arabic surnames).
  • n. A Scottish or Irish mountain or high peak.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • The seed of one or more species of moringa. See moringa.
  • An old form of the pl. indic. pr. of be.
  • adv. Within; in; in or into the interior; toward the inner apartment.
  • n. The inner or principal room in a hut or house of two rooms; -- opposed to but, the outer apartment.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In, into, or toward the inner apartment of a house; in or into the parlor. See ben, n.
  • In mining, inward; toward the workings.
  • n. The inner apartment of a house; the parlor or “room” of a dwelling consisting of a but or outer room, used as a kitchen, and a ben or inner room, used as a parlor or chamber, access to the ben being originally through the but or kitchen.
  • n. A prayer; a petition.
  • n. Obsolete or dialectal form of been.
  • n. A mountain-peak: a word occurring chiefly in the names of many of the highest summits of the mountain-ranges which traverse Scotland north of the friths of Clyde and Forth: as, Ben Nevis, Ben Mac-Dhui, Ben Lawers, etc.
  • n. The ben-nut, properly the ben-nut tree.
  • n. See behen.
  • n. In mining: The right to enter the mine and work. A workman may claim his ben, have his right to ears acknowledged, and delegate it to his boys.
  • n. Hence— A day's work. The terms quarter-ben, half-ben, three-quarters-ben are used to denote the proportion of a man's darg, or day's output of mineral, which a youth is able or allowed to put out.

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

  • n. a mountain or tall hill


Middle English, variant of binne, within, from Old English binnan; see en in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English ben, bene, from Old English bēn ("prayer, request, favor, compulsory service"), from Proto-Germanic *bōniz (“supplication”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰā- (“to say”). Related to ban. More at boon. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English ben, bene, variation of bin, binne ("within"), from Old English binnan ("within, in, inside of, into"), equivalent to be- +‎ in. (Wiktionary)
Probably representing a North African pronunciation of Arabic بان (bān, "ben tree") (Wiktionary)
Arabic بن and Hebrew בן (ben, "son"). (Wiktionary)
From Scottish Gaelic beinn (Wiktionary)


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  • (Fr.) “well” (as the English interjection or exclamation)

    May 11, 2008

  • Sung by Michael Jackson. Does it count if Ben was actually a rat?

    February 10, 2008

  • Neb in reverse.

    November 3, 2007