Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

be to do something - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

phrase formal
  1. 1
    used for telling someone what to do

    You are to stay here until I send for you.

  2. 3
    used for saying or asking what should be done

    What are we to do?

    You are to be congratulated on your wise decision.

  3. 5
    used about someone or something in the past to say what would happen at a later time

    the boy who was to become king

See also main entry: be
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play