Definition of behaviour in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /bɪˈheɪvjə/
(US behavior)


[mass noun]
1The way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others: he will vouch for her good behaviour his insulting behaviour towards me [as modifier]: behaviour patterns [count noun]: management is a set of techniques and behaviours for getting things done
More example sentences
  • Nella was still angry at their patronising and arrogant behaviour towards her in those times.
  • He complained that the doctor's behaviour towards him had been inappropriate.
  • It was totally unacceptable behaviour towards people who had given you long and loyal service.
conduct, way of behaving, way of acting, deportment, bearing, etiquette;
informal capers
1.1The way in which an animal or person behaves in response to a particular situation or stimulus: the feeding behaviour of predators
More example sentences
  • Animals alter their behavior to avoid a variety of different types of predators.
  • Data on ancient color could tell us about the environment and behavior of animals.
  • Few other studies have correlated the influence of the full moon with behaviour of animals or insects.
1.2The way in which a machine or natural phenomenon works or functions: the erratic behaviour of the old car
More example sentences
  • Perhaps this is because they mimic evolved solutions, so their behaviour seems more natural.
  • This is so the otters' food can be hidden to encourage their natural foraging behaviour.
  • In fact operating transnationally should be a natural and normal behaviour.


be on one's best behaviour

Behave well in a social situation or when being observed: warn them to be on their best behaviour
More example sentences
  • Barney said: ‘They really deserved to win and were on their best behaviour.’
  • But if some of the former residents were lacking in self control the children greeting the Princess were on their best behaviour.
  • Well done to all the pupils who were on their best behaviour on the night.


Late Middle English: from behave, on the pattern of demeanour, and influenced by obsolete haviour from have.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: be|hav¦iour

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.