Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To cause (oneself) to reflect on or consider.
  • transitive v. To remind (oneself); remember.
  • intransitive v. Archaic To meditate; ponder.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To think about, to recollect.
  • v. To think of (something or somebody) or that (+ clause); to remind oneself, to consider, to reflect upon.
  • v. to meditate, ponder; to consider
  • v. to determine, resolve

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To think; to recollect; to consider.
  • transitive v. To call to mind; to recall or bring to recollection, reflection, or consideration; to think; to consider; -- generally followed by a reflexive pronoun, often with of or that before the subject of thought.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To think; imagine.
  • To think about; reflect upon; consider.
  • Reflexively: To call to mind; take into consideration; remind one's self: with of (formerly also on or upon) before the name of the object of thought.
  • To reflect; deliberate; commune with one's self.
  • To deliberate; consider.

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

  • v. cause oneself to consider something
  • v. consider or ponder something carefully

Etymologies

Middle English bithinken, from Old English bethencan; see tong- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English bethenken, bithenchen "to think about, consider" from Old English beþenċan, biþenċan "to think upon, remind, consider, remember" from Proto-Germanic *bi- + *þankijanan (“to think about”), equivalent to be- +‎ think. Akin to Old High German pidenchan "to bethink" (German bedenken "to bethink"), Gothic  (biþagkjan), Dutch bedenken "to bethink". More at be-, think. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "But you," I demanded hotly; "you with your orgies of sound and sense, with your mad cities and madder frolics — bethink you that you win?"

    WHEN GOD LAUGHS

  • Consider thyself, Hereward, and bethink thee what thou art.

    Count Robert of Paris

  • “Keep thy voice low and submissive, I have told thee a score of times,” said the leader, “and lower thine axe, which, as I bethink me, thou hadst better leave in the outer apartment.”

    Count Robert of Paris

  • “An excellent motion, my ingenious friend,” said Lascaris, which was the name of the other citizen; “but bethink you, shall we not be in danger from the missiles with which the audacious Latins will not fail to return the Greek fire, if, according to your conjecture, it shall be poured upon them by the Imperial squadron?”

    Count Robert of Paris

  • Now go, my child, and tarry not; and soon as thou hast made the offering at the tomb, bethink thee of thy return.

    Orestes

  • “Cousin,” said the Lady Hameline, “I believe with you that the youth means us well — but bethink you — we transgress the instructions of King Louis, so positively iterated.”

    Quentin Durward

  • I am not so void of sense; bethink thee, I shall go through this as well, when I lead the maiden from the chamber to the sound of the marriage-hymn; wherefore I chide thee not; but custom will combine with time to make the smart grow less.

    Iphigenia at Aulis

  • And thou art he, too, as I bethink me, to whom the Christian princes sent this very criminal to open a communication with the Soldan, even while I, who ought to have been first consulted, lay on my sick-bed?

    The Talisman

  • “Good Nectabanus, bethink thyself,” said the knight.

    The Talisman

  • Lo! where himself doth come, thy son Hippolytus, in good time; dismiss thy hurtful rage, King Theseus, and bethink thee what is best for thy house,

    Hippolytus

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  • “Beset, as you should know, by woe and eager for a situation of venerational tranquility, I bethought me of this manteion, the new calde’s own, as a place to which I might retire, pray and contemplate the inscrutable ways of the gods.” (emphasis in the original)
    —Patera Incus in The Book of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe

    September 18, 2009