50 Words with the Most Whimsical Prefix
The prefix be- has a variety of interesting roles in language:
The prefix is affixed to a verb to indicate a causative agent, as in belittle, meaning “to diminish by criticism or mockery.”
Become and begin, and the archaic-sounding beget, are words starting with the prefix that indicate something coming to be; the prefix also appears in words expressing the near opposite, such as behead.
It’s one thing to be dazzled by a luminous object, but a reference to being bedazzled implies a higher order of enchantment.
Be- indicates relative placement, as in below or between.
Its addition to a word transforms nouns and adjectives into verbs, as in besiege and beware (“be aware”). It also changes intransitive verbs (those that do not take an object) into transitive ones, as with becalm.
The simple act of attaching these two letters to an existing word enhances English by providing us with terms that entertain us with their vivid imagery. Here are some more or less obscure be- words and their definitions:
becloud: to obscure or muddle
bedaub: to excessively ornament or anoint
bedazzle: to enchant
bedeck: to fancily clothe or decorate
bedevil: to annoy
bedew: to moisten
bedight: to equip or adorn
bedim: to obscure, or to reduce light
bedizen: to adorn or dress in a tacky manner
bedraggle: to drench
befit: to be appropriate for
befool: to delude or trick
begrime: to make dirty
begrudge: to give reluctantly
beguile: to seduce
behoove: to be appropriate
bejewel: to adorn with jewelry
belabor: to emphasize unnecessarily
belaud: to fulsomely praise
belay: to stop or hold off from
beleaguer: to trouble or bother
belie: to falsely imply, to reveal something as false, or to contradict
bemire: to expose to or engulf in mud
bemock: to ridicule
benight: overcome by literal or figurative darkness
benumb: to deprive of sensation
bepuzzle: to confuse
bequeath: to leave an inheritance (the noun form is bequest)
bereave: to deprive (one so treated is bereft)
beseech: to beg (the past tense is besought)
beseem: to be fitting or suitable
beset: to attack, harass, or surround
besmear: to stain or obscure, or to defame
besmirch: see besmear
besort: to fit or become (also a noun meaning “appropriate associate”)
besot: to infatuate or muddle
besoul: to endow with a soul
bespatter: to splash
bespeak: to claim, request, address, or identify
besprinkle: to scatter or disperse
bestir: to rouse
bestow: to put to use or in place, or to convey a gift
bestrew: see besprinkle
betake: to commit, or cause to act
bethink: to recall, or to cause to consider
betroth: to promise to marry, or to give in marriage
bewhisker: to provide with whiskers (or, as bewhiskered, to have whiskers)
bewhore: to corrupt sexually, or to characterize as a whore
bewig: to place a wig on
bewray: to betray
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