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

  • n. Interest, support, or benefit.
  • idiom in behalf of For the benefit of; in the interest of.
  • idiom on behalf of As the agent of; on the part of.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Advantage; favor; stead; benefit; interest; profit; support; defense; vindication.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Advantage; favor; stead; benefit; interest; profit; support; defense; vindication.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Advantage, benefit, interest, or defense (of somebody or something).
  • n. Affair; cause; matter.

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

  • n. as the agent of or on someone's part (usually expressed as
  • n. for someone's benefit (usually expressed as `in behalf' rather than `on behalf' and usually with a possessive)


Middle English, from Old English be healfe, by (his) side : be, by, at; see by1 + healf, side, half; see half.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English bihalve ("nearby"), from healfe ("side") (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Another disfavoured construction is 'on the behalf of'. The initial half million hits on Google looks numerous (to the dubious extent that numbers mean anything on Google any more), but there are a hundred million for 'on behalf of'. Likewise, BNC has 4 against 2717. So while it's probably not to be considered entirely ungrammatical, it's not standard.

    March 19, 2009

  • Central industrial property offices of those Member States which have decided accordingly draw up simultaneously and on their own behalves, search reports relating to earlier national trade marks in their registers.
    OHIM website on Community trade marks

    A rare instance of the plural. Examination of the 48 000 ghits for this shows that about half of them are genuine uses of it; but "on their behalves" has only a fraction of 1% of the frequency of "on their behalf".

    September 15, 2008