I know the expression 'on (someone's) behalf' usually reads or is understood as 'instead of someone' but I'm wondering if it's possible for it to have a benefactive reading, that is, if it can be used to express one has been benefited by somebody else's action. Can anyone help me?
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At one time on behalf of and in behalf of meant different things:
About 1800, however, on behalf of began to be used in both senses; and, no doubt in consequence, in behalf of started to fade from use a couple of generations later.
In 1887 the OED called this a “recent use” which it regarded as “the loss of an important distinction”; but the language marches on, callously indifferent to the pain of even her most devoted followers. Today you may use the phrase in either sense.