First Name
in the U.S.
since 1880
Last Name
in the U.S.
in 2010
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How to Pronounce Be

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Meaning and Origin

What does the name Be mean? Find out below.

Origin and Meaning of Be

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Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
verb Be
  1. To exist actually, or in the world of fact; to have existence."To be contents his natural desire." [Pope.]"To be, or not to be: that is the question." [Shak.]
  2. To exist in a certain manner or relation, -- whether as a reality or as a product of thought; to exist as the subject of a certain predicate, that is, as having a certain attribute, or as belonging to a certain sort, or as identical with what is specified, -- a word or words for the predicate being annexed; as, to be happy; to be here; to be large, or strong; to be an animal; to be a hero; to be a nonentity; three and two are five; annihilation is the cessation of existence; that is the man.
  3. To take place; to happen; as, the meeting was on Thursday.
  4. To signify; to represent or symbolize; to answer to."The field is the world." [Matt. xiii. 38.]"The seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches." [Rev. i. 20.]
    synonyms: To be Exist.

Note: ☞ The verb to beincluding the forms is was, etc.) is used in forming the passive voice of other verbs; as, John has been struck by James. It is also used with the past participle of many intransitive verbs to express a state of the subject. But have is now more commonly used as the auxiliary, though expressing a different sense; as, “Ye have come too late -- but ye are come. ” “The minstrel boy to the war is gone.” The present and imperfect tenses form, with the infinitive, a particular future tense, which expresses necessity, duty, or purpose; as, government is to be supported; we are to pay our just debts; the deed is to be signed to-morrow.

Note: Have or had been, followed by to, implies movement. “I have been to Paris.” Sydney Smith.Have you been to Franchard ?” R. L. Stevenson.

Note: Been, or ben, was anciently the plural of the indicative present. “Ye ben light of the world.” Wyclif, Matt. v. 14. Afterwards be was used, as in our Bible: “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.” 2 Kings vi. 16. Ben was also the old infinitive: “To ben of such power.” R. of Gloucester. Be is used as a form of the present subjunctive: “But if it be a question of words and names.” Acts xviii. 15. But the indicative forms, is and are, with if, are more commonly used.

Usage: The verb to be, except in a few rare cases, like that of Shakespeare's “To be, or not to be”, is used simply as a copula, to connect a subject with its predicate; as, man is mortal; the soul is immortal. The verb to exist is never properly used as a mere copula, but points to things that stand forth, or have a substantive being; as, when the soul is freed from all corporeal alliance, then it truly exists. It is not, therefore, properly synonymous with to be when used as a copula, though occasionally made so by some writers for the sake of variety; as in the phrase “there exists is] no reason for laying new taxes.” We may, indeed, say, “a friendship has long existed between them,” instead of saying, “there has long been a friendship between them;” but in this case, exist is not a mere copula. It is used in its appropriate sense to mark the friendship as having been long in existence.

Etymology: OE. been beon, AS. beón to be, beóm I am; akin to OHG. bim pim, G. bin, I am, Gael. & Ir. bu was, W. bod to be, Lith. bu-ti, O. Slav. by-ti, to be, L. fu-i I have been, fu-turus about to be, fo-re to be about to be, and perh. to fieri to become, Gr. fy^nai to be born, to be, Skr. bhū to be. This verb is defective, and the parts lacking are supplied by verbs from other roots, is was, which have no radical connection with be. The various forms, am are is was were, etc., are considered grammatically as parts of the verb “to be”, which, with its conjugational forms, is often called the substantive verb. √97. Cf. Future Physic

Other Dictionary Sources
  1. A light strong brittle grey toxic bivalent metallic element
  2. Spend or use time ("I may be an hour")
  3. Work in a specific place, with a specific subject, or in a specific function
  4. Have an existence, be extant
  5. Have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun)
  6. Have life, be alive
  7. Be identical to; be someone or something
  8. Form or compose ("These constitute my entire belonging")
  9. Occupy a certain position or area; be somewhere ("What is behind this behavior?")
  10. Be identical or equivalent to
  11. Represent, as of a character on stage
  12. Be priced at
  13. To remain unmolested, undisturbed, or uninterrupted -- used only in infinitive form ("let her be")
  14. Happen, occur, take place

Notable Persons Named Be


Bê Martins is a soccer player for the Portugal national beach soccer team.


Notable Persons With the Last Name Be

The Powers That Be is a fictional character.


Guillaume was born in 1525 in Troyes. He breathed his last breath in 1598.


Angie Be is a musician. She has been prominent since 2009. Angie was given the name Élodie Bouche in 1977.



Allan W. H. Bé was a in the field of micropaleontology. He breathed his last breath on October 13th, 1983.


Where is the name Be popular?

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Popularity of Be as a last name

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Common last names for Be

  • Nguyen
  • Tran
  • Le
  • Pham
  • Huynh
  • Truong

Ethnicity Distribution

Ethnicity Be U.S.
  White 22.69% 64.26%
  African American 4.89% 11.96%
  Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 60.82% 4.85%
  American Indian and Alaska Native 0.52% 0.69%
  Two or More Ethnicities 2.44% 1.76%
  Hispanic or Latino 8.64% 16.26%

Of Last Name Be

People with the last name Be are most frequently White or Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander

Entire United States

Fun Facts about the name Be

  • How Popular is the name Be? Be is the 83,537th most popular name of all time. As a last name Be was the 22,450th most popular name in 2010.
  • How many people with the first name Be have been born in the United States? From 1880 to 2017, the Social Security Administration has recorded 5 babies born with the first name Be in the United States.
  • What year were 5 or more babies first named Be? The name was first given to 5 or more babies in the year 1919 when it was given as a first name to 5 new born babies.
  • When was Be first recorded in the United States? The oldest recorded birth by the Social Security Administration for the first name Be is Friday, February 1st, 1884.
  • What year had the most people named Be born? The highest recorded use of the first name Be was in 1919 with a total of 5 babies.
  • Weird things about the name Be: Your name in reverse order is Eb. A random rearrangement of the letters in your name (anagram) will give Be. How do you pronounce that?
  • How many people have the last name Be? In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 1,146 people with the last name Be.
  • How likely are you to meet someone with the last name of Be? Chances are, most people haven't met someone with Be as their last name since less than 1 person in 256k people have that last name. If you know one, consider yourself lucky!

What Bes Have Visited This Page?

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  • Sources:
  • U.S. Census Bureau: Frequently Occurring Surnames from the Census 2000 (public domain).
  • U.S. Social Security Administration: Popular Baby Names, Death Master File (public domain).
  • 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via the Collaborative International Dictionary of English (License)
  • Other Dictionary Sources: WordNet 3.1 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University (License).
  • Notable persons via Wikipedia: Titles and License. Click each image for the attribution information.