beignet (n.) Look up beignet at Dictionary.com
"fritter," 1835, from French beignet "fritter, eggroll, doughnut" (14c.), from Old French buigne "bump, lump," from Frankish or some other Germanic source (compare Middle High German bunge "clod, lump"), or from Gaulish *bunia (compare Gaelic bonnach).
Beijing Look up Beijing at Dictionary.com
Chinese capital, from bei "north" + jing "capital" (as opposed to Nanking, literally "southern capital").
being (n.) Look up being at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, "condition, state, circumstances; presence, fact of existing," early 14c., existence," from be + -ing. Sense of "that which physically exists, person or thing" (as in human being) is from late 14c.
Beirut Look up Beirut at Dictionary.com
Lebanese capital, from Hebrew, literally "the wells," from be'erot, plural of be'er "well."
bejesus Look up bejesus at Dictionary.com
mild expletive, 1908, perhaps from by Jesus. To beat the bejesus out of someone is from 1934.
bejewel (v.) Look up bejewel at Dictionary.com
1550s, from be- + jewel. Related: Bejeweled.
beknow (v.) Look up beknow at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, "to become acquainted with; to be aware or conscious of," from be- + know (v.). Related: Beknown; beknowing.
Bel Look up Bel at Dictionary.com
heaven-and-earth god of Babylonian religion, from Akkadian Belu, literally "lord, owner, master," cognate with Hebrew ba'al.
bel (adj.) Look up bel at Dictionary.com
"beautiful," early 14c., from Old French bel, belle "beautiful, fair, fine" (see belle). "Naturalized in ME.; but after 1600 consciously French" [OED].
bel (n.) Look up bel at Dictionary.com
unit of power level in measuring sound, 1929, named for Scottish-born telephone pioneer Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922).
bel canto Look up bel canto at Dictionary.com
1894, Italian, literally "fine song."
bel paese Look up bel paese at Dictionary.com
type of mild, creamy cheese, 1935, Italian proprietary name, literally "beautiful country or region."
belabor (v.) Look up belabor at Dictionary.com
1590s, "to exert one's strength upon," from be- + labor (v.). But figurative sense of "assail with words" is attested somewhat earlier (1590s); and belabored is attested from mid-15c. with a sense of "tilled, cultivated."
belabour (v.) Look up belabour at Dictionary.com
chiefly British English spelling of belabor (q.v.); for spelling, see -or.
belated (adj.) Look up belated at Dictionary.com
1610s, "overtaken by night," past participle adjective from belate "to make late, detain," from be- + late. Sense of "coming past due, behind date" is from 1660s. Related: Belatedly.
belay (v.) Look up belay at Dictionary.com
"to secure or fasten," from Old English bilecgan, which, among other senses, meant "to lay a thing about" (with other objects), from be- + lecgan "to lay" (see lay (v.)). The only surviving sense is the nautical one of "coil a running rope round a cleat or pin to secure it" (also transferred to mountain-climbing), first attested 1540s; but this is possibly a cognate word, from Dutch beleggen.
belch (v.) Look up belch at Dictionary.com
Old English bealcan "bring up wind from the stomach," also "swell, heave," of echoic origin (compare Dutch balken "to bray, shout"). Extended to volcanoes, cannons, etc. 1570s. Related: Belched; belching. As a noun, recorded from 1510s. It is recorded in 1706 as a slang noun meaning "poor beer."
beldam (n.) Look up beldam at Dictionary.com
"aged woman," 1570s; earlier "grandmother" (mid-15c.), from dame (q.v.) in the sense of "mother" + bel-, Middle English prefix expressing relationship (as in belfader, belsire "grandfather"), from Old French bel, belle "beautiful, fair, fine" (see belle). This "direct relationship" sense of bel is not found in French, where the prefix is used to form words for in-laws.
beleaguer (v.) Look up beleaguer at Dictionary.com
1580s, from Dutch or Low German belegeren "to besiege," from be- "around" (see be-) + legeren "to camp," from leger "bed, camp, army, lair," from Proto-Germanic *leg-raz-, from PIE *legh-to- "lie" (see lie (v.2)). A word from the Flemish Wars (cognates: Swedish belägra, Dutch belegeren "besiege," German Belagerung "siege"). Spelling influenced by league. Related: Beleaguered; beleaguering.
beleave (v.) Look up beleave at Dictionary.com
Old English belæfan, "to cause or allow to remain behind, to leave something behind," a general Germanic compound (compare Gothic bilaibjan) from be- + Old English læfan "to leave" (see leave (v.)). In Middle English sometimes contracted to bleve. For further development, see belive.
belfry (n.) Look up belfry at Dictionary.com
c. 1400, "wooden siege tower on wheels" (late 13c. in Anglo-Latin with a sense "bell tower"), from Old North French berfroi "movable siege tower" (Modern French beffroi), from Middle High German bercfrit "protecting shelter," from Proto-Germanic compound *berg-frithu, literally "high place of security," or that which watches over peace." From bergen "to protect" (see bury) or *bergaz "mountain, high place" (see barrow (n.2)) + *frithu- "peace; personal security" (see affray). It came to be used for chime towers (mid-15c.), which at first often were detached from church buildings (as the Campanile on Plaza San Marco in Venice). Spelling altered by dissimilation or by association with bell (n.).
Belgian (adj.) Look up Belgian at Dictionary.com
1620s, in reference to the ancient Belgæ (see Belgium). Belgian Congo formed 1908 by annexation.
Belgic (adj.) Look up Belgic at Dictionary.com
1580s, from Latin Belgicus, from Belgae (see Belgium).
Belgium Look up Belgium at Dictionary.com
c. 1600, "Low Germany and the Netherlands," from the Latin name of the territory near here occupied by the Belgæ, a Celtic tribe. Adopted 1830 as the name of a new nation formed from the southern part of the former United Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Belial Look up Belial at Dictionary.com
early 13c., from Hebrew bel'yya'al "destruction," literally "worthless," from b'li "without" + ya'al "use." Wickedness as an evil force (Deuteronomy xiii.13); later treated as a proper name for Satan (2 Corinthians vi.15), though Milton made him one of the fallen angels.
belie (v.) Look up belie at Dictionary.com
Old English beleogan "to deceive by lies," from be- + lie (v.1) "to lie, tell lies." Current sense of "to contradict as a lie" is first recorded 1640s. The other verb lie once also had a formation like this, from Old English belicgan, which meant "to encompass, beleaguer," and in Middle English was a euphemism for "to have sex with" (i.e. "to lie with carnally").
belief (n.) Look up belief at Dictionary.com
late 12c., bileave, replacing Old English geleafa "belief, faith," from West Germanic *ga-laubon "to hold dear, esteem, trust" (source also of Old Saxon gilobo, Middle Dutch gelove, Old High German giloubo, German Glaube), from *galaub- "dear, esteemed," from intensive prefix *ga- + *leubh- "to care, desire, like, love" (see love (v.)). The prefix was altered on analogy of the verb believe. The distinction of the final consonant from that of believe developed 15c.
The be-, which is not a natural prefix of nouns, was prefixed on the analogy of the vb. (where it is naturally an intensive) .... [OED]
Belief used to mean "trust in God," while faith meant "loyalty to a person based on promise or duty" (a sense preserved in keep one's faith, in good (or bad) faith and in common usage of faithful, faithless, which contain no notion of divinity). But faith, as cognate of Latin fides, took on the religious sense beginning in 14c. translations, and belief had by 16c. become limited to "mental acceptance of something as true," from the religious use in the sense of "things held to be true as a matter of religious doctrine" (a sense attested from early 13c.).
believability (n.) Look up believability at Dictionary.com
1865, from believable + -ity.
believable (adj.) Look up believable at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from believe + -able. Related: Believably.
believe (v.) Look up believe at Dictionary.com
Old English belyfan "to believe," earlier geleafa (Mercian), gelefa (Northumbrian), gelyfan (West Saxon) "believe," from Proto-Germanic *ga-laubjan "to believe," perhaps literally "hold dear, love" (source also of Old Saxon gilobian "believe," Dutch geloven, Old High German gilouben, German glauben), ultimately a compound based on PIE *leubh- "to care, desire, love" (see belief).

Spelling beleeve is common till 17c.; then altered, perhaps by influence of relieve, etc. To believe on instead of in was more common in 16c. but now is a peculiarity of theology; believe of also sometimes was used in 17c. Related: Believed (formerly occasionally beleft); believing. Expression believe it or not attested by 1874; Robert Ripley's newspaper cartoon of the same name is from 1918. Emphatic you better believe attested from 1854.
believer (n.) Look up believer at Dictionary.com
"one who has faith in religion," 1540s, agent noun from believe.
belittle (v.) Look up belittle at Dictionary.com
1781, "to make small," from be- + little (v.); first recorded in writings of Thomas Jefferson (and probably coined by him), who was roundly execrated for it in England:
Belittle! What an expression! It may be an elegant one in Virginia, and even perfectly intelligible; but for our part, all we can do is to guess at its meaning. For shame, Mr. Jefferson! ["European Magazine and London Review," 1787, reporting on "Notes on the State of Virginia"; to guess was considered another barbarous Yankeeism.]
Jefferson used it to characterize Buffon's view that American life was stunted by nature, which he was refuting. The figurative sense of "depreciate, scorn as worthless" (as the reviewers did to this word) is from 1797. Related: Belittled; belittling.
belive (v.) Look up belive at Dictionary.com
Old English belifan "remain," intransitive form of belæfan "cause to remain" (see beleave). A general Germanic compound (cognates: Old Saxon bilibhon, Gothic bileiban, Old High German biliban, German bleiben, Dutch blijven); confused in early Middle English with beleave and merged into it, which gave beleave two clashing senses ("to leave," also "to remain") which might be why the compound word, the cognate of important verbs in other Germanic languages, was abandoned in English and only leave (v.) remains.
bell (n.) Look up bell at Dictionary.com
Old English belle, common North Sea Germanic (cognates: Middle Dutch belle, Middle Low German belle) but not found elsewhere in Germanic (except as a borrowing), from PIE root *bhel- (4) "to sound, roar." Statistical bell curve was coined 1870s in French. Of glasses in the shape of a bell from 1640s. Bell pepper is from 1707, so called for its shape. Bell, book, and candle is a reference to a form of excommunication. To ring a bell "awaken a memory" (1934) is perhaps a reference to Pavlovian experiments.
bell (v.) Look up bell at Dictionary.com
"attach a bell to," late 14c., from bell (n.). Related: Belled; belling. Allusions to the story of the mice that bell the cat (so they can hear him coming) date to 1520s.
bell-bottoms (n.) Look up bell-bottoms at Dictionary.com
type of trousers, 1882, from bell (n.) + bottom (n.). Distinguished in the late 1960s from flares by the shape of the expanded part (flares straight, bell-bottoms curved).
Bella Look up Bella at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, from Italian bella "fair," from Latin bella, fem. of bellus "beautiful, fair" (see bene-). In some cases short for Isabella (see Isabel).
belladonna (n.) Look up belladonna at Dictionary.com
1590s, "deadly nightshade" (Atropa belladonna), from Italian, literally "fair lady;" the plant so called supposedly because women made cosmetic eye-drops from its juice (an 18c. explanation; atropic acid, found in the plant, has a well-known property of dilating the pupils) or because it was used to poison beautiful women. Perhaps a folk etymology alteration; Gamillscheg suggests ultimately of Gaulish origin.
Bellatrix Look up Bellatrix at Dictionary.com
bright star in the left shoulder of Orion, from Latin bellatrix "female warrior," frequently used as an adjective, "warlike, skilled in war," fem. of bellator "to wage war," from bellum "war" (see bellicose). The Latin name, from the Alfonsine Tables (mid-13c.), very loosely translates the Arabic name for the star, Al Najid "the conqueror."
In astrology it was the natal star of all destined to great civil or military honors, and rendered women born under its influence lucky and loquacious; or as old Thomas Hood said, "Women born under this constellation shall have mighty tongues." [Allen]
bellboy (n.) Look up bellboy at Dictionary.com
from bell (n.) + boy; originally (1851) a ship's bell-ringer, later (1861) a hotel page.
belle (n.) Look up belle at Dictionary.com
"beautiful woman well-dressed; reigning beauty," 1620s, from French belle, from Old French bele, from Latin bella, fem. of bellus "beautiful, fair" (see bene-).
Bellerophon Look up Bellerophon at Dictionary.com
Greek hero, from Latin form of Greek Bellerophontes, probably literally "killer of (the demon) Bellerus," from -phontes "killer of."
belles-lettres (n.) Look up belles-lettres at Dictionary.com
"elegant literature, aesthetics," 1710, French, literally "fine letters," from belles, plural of belle, fem. of beau "fine, beautiful" (see beau) + lettres, plural of lettre "letter" (see letter (n.)). The literary equivalent of beaux arts.
belletrist (n.) Look up belletrist at Dictionary.com
also bellettrist, 1816, an awkward contraction of belles-lettres + -ist. Adjective belletristic is recorded from 1821.
bellhop (n.) Look up bellhop at Dictionary.com
also bell-hop, by 1906, American English, shortening of slang bellhopper (1899), from bell (n.) + hop (v.). The notion is one who "hops" into action when the bell is rung.
bellicose (adj.) Look up bellicose at Dictionary.com
early 15c., "warlike," from Latin bellicosus "warlike, valorous, given to fighting," from bellicus "of war," from bellum "war," Old Latin duellum, dvellum, which is of uncertain origin.
bellicosity (n.) Look up bellicosity at Dictionary.com
1840, from bellicose + -ity.
bellied (adj.) Look up bellied at Dictionary.com
having a swelling or hollow middle, late 15c., from belly (n.). Also, in compounds, "having a belly" (of a certain kind).
belligerence (n.) Look up belligerence at Dictionary.com
1804; see belligerent + -ence. Related: belligerency. Middle English had belligeration "warfare."
belligerent (adj.) Look up belligerent at Dictionary.com
1570s, from Latin belligerantem (nominative belligerans), past participle of belligerare "to wage war," from bellum "war" (see bellicose) + gerere "to bear, to carry" (see gest). The noun meaning "party or nation at war" is from 1811. Related: Belligerently.