8.01.2006

Behooves

This word sounds weird and is archaic, but I've heard people use it. Why? Why resurrect such an odd word? I have a hard time listening to someone after they say, "It behooves us to take this into consideration." It just sounds so prissy and proper, as if we're living in Victorian England (though the word is a lot older than that):

Middle English behoven, from Old English behOfian, from behOf
transitive verb : to be necessary, proper, or advantageous for
intransitive verb : to be necessary, fit, or proper

I wonder if German has a variation of this word, since Old English sounds similar. I don't know German well enough to be able to pluck it off the top of my head. All I know is while people, especially Americans, are speaking in a straightforward style, the use of this word is like a stuffy anachronism.

4 comments:

Jon Konrath said...

What's weird is that most people and dictionaries define it as "to be necessary" but not always "to be advantageous for". Either way, it really seems like a word-a-day, I'm-so-smart sort of thing.

And the OE behof is from hof=lift. I don't know how that makes any sense.

mj said...

Now I'm laughing cuz I don't know what "hof=lift" means, and then you said "I don't know how that makes any sense." Well it doesn't to me, so we're all in the dark.

bigwhitehat said...

It doesn't matter what you say. I'll use that word anytime it behooves me.

mj said...

I will offer you an online Thai laugh: 555! (5 is ha in Thai).