Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To lave or wash about; wash all over; wash.
  • v. to remain, continue; to belay
  • v. to be alive

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To lave about; wash all over; wash.

Etymologies

From Middle English bilaven ("to wash all over"), from bi-, be- + laven ("to wash, pour water on"), from Old English lafian, ġelafian ("to pour water on, refresh"), from Proto-Germanic *labōnan (“to refresh, strengthen”), from Proto-Indo-European *lōbh- (“to strengthen oneself, rest”), equivalent to be- +‎ lave. Cogante with Dutch laven ("to refresh"), German laben ("to refresh"). More at lave. (Wiktionary)
Anomalous alteration of beleve ("to remain, be alive") and belive ("to remain, stay"), both from Middle English beliven ("to remain"), from Old English belīfan ("to remain"), from Proto-Germanic *bilībanan (“to remain”), from Proto-Indo-European *lip- (“to stick, glue”). Cognate with Dutch blijven ("to remain"), German bleiben ("to remain"). More at belive, leave. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Be vacillant over those vigilant who would leave you to belave black on white.

    Finnegans Wake

  • If Jan Ridd say it be true, I will try almost to belave it.

    Lorna Doone

  • MR. DOOLAN -- "Oi belave it will give ye more ov an oidea wot sort ov a woman me woife is."

    More Toasts

  • Well, I belave that room will jist about hold three beds an 'lave a nate little path betwane ivery two of' em.

    The Widow O'Callaghan's Boys

  • The widow glanced at the lit-up countenance and eager eyes of her third son, and, loth to rouse hopes that might later have to be dashed down, observed, "Thim colleges are ixpinsive, I belave."

    The Widow O'Callaghan's Boys

  • But I belave that where they've come wanst, they're loikely to be comin 'again, if them that's permoted lives up to their chances.

    The Widow O'Callaghan's Boys

  • If you could get a riference, I belave they calls it, from the Gineral, for we're mostly strangers yet.

    The Widow O'Callaghan's Boys

  • I belave there'll be always something for my b'ys to do, because my b'ys will _work_.

    The Widow O'Callaghan's Boys

  • I belave it's quite something loike to be able to sleep with engines tootin 'and blowin' off steam, and bells a-ringin ', and cars a-bumpin'.

    The Widow O'Callaghan's Boys

  • "The days is long, and I belave, Moike, you could do something else than our own housework, with Andy here to look after the little b'ys."

    The Widow O'Callaghan's Boys

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