In famous Austin Powers movie series Austin often says: "Oh behave"

What does it mean?

  • 3
    It means "stop being naughty", where naughty in this case means sexually provocative or whatever.
    – toryan
    Jan 7 '14 at 20:09
  • As Powers remarked after a long nap[self induced coma]"Liberace gay"?
    – user65932
    Feb 15 '14 at 5:44

What you should realize about the Austin Powers movies that may not be immediately obvious to a non-native speaker is that the character is written by USA natives to be an exaggerated parody of a British guy from the 60's. As such, a lot of his tag lines aren't so much phrases in common use in England, but rather an American's view of phrases in common use in England in the 60's.

The general concept behind the character is that he still has the mentality of a 60's Alpha male from a James-Bond knockoff movie. In his mind the "sexual revolution" has barely begun, women exist purely for his personal gratification, and are probably just waiting for a positive signal of interest in his part to jump his bones. Any attempt to talk to him as an equal, as a modern woman would, he misconstrues as sexual interest.

So you have to keep in mind when watching those movies that in nearly every scene this is a guy who is going to be inappropriately sexual in a (to an American) cartoonishly British 60's way.

Looking at the "Oh behave" in that light, what you should see is a guy who thinks the person he's talking to is making sexual advances, and is basically saying, "Great idea for later, but we have something else we have to take care of here first."

  • As an American, I often get a laugh out of how Americans are portrayed in British TV and movies -- exaggerated stereotypes of being greedy and arrogant and always walking and talking very fast. Sometimes I notice obvious stereotypes of other nationalities in American movies, other times I probably miss them because, that's how all British/Germans/Japanese/whatever are, isn't it?
    – Jay
    Jan 7 '14 at 21:18
  • 1
    @Jay - My first experience with that was watching Monty Python as a child. There's one sketch where Cleese is made up with a big cowboy hat and is talking loudly and obnoxiously (but in a subtly different way than he normally does). I didn't think twice about it as a kid, but saw it again as an adult and went "Ooooooh! That was supposed to be an American."
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 7 '14 at 21:36
  • "A bit of Fry and Laurie" has an awwwwesome American parody skit. Texans.
    – Preston
    Jan 7 '14 at 22:40
  • Being pedantic, Mike Myers is actually Canadian and (I think I read) a first generation one at that. I believe his parents were born in the UK and I know that he spent a number of pre-Waynes World years living and working in England.
    – mcottle
    Aug 19 '16 at 8:31

It means Behave properly, and its use is not confined to Austin Powers movies.


In the context of Austin Powers, it has a sexual connotation to it. Something along the lines of 'stop flirting with me', or more precisely 'continue flirting with me'.

Another example is user in the Carry On movies where 'Oooh Matron' is used with similar effect.

  • It's just the sort of phrase that Kenneth Williams or Frankie Howerd would have delivered - even if it wasn't actually said in one of the original Carry-On movies. Which, remember were current at the point that Austin Powers was frozen...
    – mcottle
    Aug 19 '16 at 8:33

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