\ \ [OE] Etymologically, what you bequeath is what you ‘say’ you will leave someone in your will. The word comes from Old English becwethan, a derivative of cwethansay’, whose past tense cwæth gives us quoth (it is no relation to quote, by the way). The original sense ‘say, utter’ died out in the 13th century, leaving the legal sense of ‘transferring by will’ (first recorded in 1066).
\ \ The noun derivative of Old English cwethan in compounds was -cwiss. Hence we can assume there was an Old English noun *becwiss, although none is recorded. The first we hear of it is at the beginning of the 14th century, when it had unaccountably had a t added to it, producing what we now know as bequest.

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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  • Bequeath — Be*queath (b[ e]*kw[=e][th] ), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Bequeathed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Bequeathing}.] [OE. biquethen, AS. becwe[eth]an to say, affirm, bequeath; pref. be + cwe[eth]an to say, speak. See {Quoth}.] 1. To give or leave by will; to give by …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bequeath — be·queath /bi kwēth, kwēt̲h̲/ vt [Old English becwethan to speak to, address, leave by will, from be to, about + cwethan to say]: to give by will used esp. of personal property but sometimes of real property; see also legacy, legatee compare de …   Law dictionary

  • bequeath — be‧queath [bɪˈkwiːD, bɪˈkwiːθ] verb [transitive] LAW to officially arrange for someone to have money or property that you own after your death, by writing it in your will: bequeath something to somebody • Sharp left the museum nothing, instead… …   Financial and business terms

  • bequeath — (v.) O.E. becweðan to say, speak to, exhort, blame, also leave by will; from BE (Cf. be ) + cweðan to say, from P.Gmc. *kwithan, from PIE *gwet to say, speak. Original sense of say, utter died out 13c., leaving legal sense of transfer by will.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • bequeath — *will, devise, leave, legate Analogous words: *give, present, bestow: *distribute, dispense …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • bequeath — [v] give in a will bestow, commit, devise, endow, entrust, grant, hand down, hand on, impart, leave, leave to, legate, pass on, transmit, will; concepts 108,317 Ant. take …   New thesaurus

  • bequeath — ► VERB 1) leave (property) to someone by a will. 2) hand down or pass on. ORIGIN Old English, related to QUOTH(Cf. ↑quoth) …   English terms dictionary

  • bequeath — [bē kwēth′, bēkwēth′; bikwēth′, bikwēth′] vt. bequeathed, bequeathing [ME bequethen < OE becwethan, to declare, give by will < be , BE + cwethan, to say: see QUOTH] 1. to leave (property) to another by last will and testament 2. to hand… …   English World dictionary

  • bequeath — UK [bɪˈkwiːð] / US [bɪˈkwɪð] / US [bɪˈkwɪθ] verb [transitive] Word forms bequeath : present tense I/you/we/they bequeath he/she/it bequeaths present participle bequeathing past tense bequeathed past participle bequeathed formal to give someone… …   English dictionary

  • bequeath — [[t]bɪkwi͟ːð[/t]] bequeaths, bequeathing, bequeathed 1) VERB If you bequeath your money or property to someone, you legally state that they should have it when you die. [FORMAL] [V n n] Fields s will bequeathed his wife Hattie and son Claude the… …   English dictionary

  • bequeath — be|queath [bıˈkwi:ð, bıˈkwi:θ] v [T] [: Old English; Origin: becwethan, from cwethan to say ] 1.) to officially arrange for someone to have something that you own after your death = ↑leave bequeath sth to sb ▪ She bequeathed her collection of… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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