I know the word behold means to look upon. So why does beholden mean obligated, indebted?
Can someone tell me how this phrase came about?
The OED says for "behold":
a. trans. To hold by, keep hold of, retain. Obs.
†2. trans. To hold by some tie of duty or obligation, to retain as a client or person in duty bound. Found only in the pa. pple. BEHOLDEN adj., q.v.
(and other meanings, of course).
It gives examples of the first up to 1525, and no examples of the second.
We hold objects in our gazes, we hold others to their debts. The sense of holding is the same, though the subjects we are holding vary.