The following sentence appears in a syllabus of a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit (at page 3):

The panel affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Longoria’s family-members’ § 1983 claims. The panel held that only Longoria’s estate could bring a § 1983 for the violation of his Fourth Amendment rights; his family members had no standing to sue on their own behalves.

My question relates to the correctness of the word in bold faced type in that sentence. I would have written that sentence: " . . . ; no family member of Longoria had standing to sue on his or her behalf." And, I have never seen the word "behalves" used in writing as a plural of "behalf."

Is "behalves" a recognized plural of behalf in a context like the sentence quoted above?


Behalves was historically used as the plural of behalf. It is sometimes also spelled behalfs. While it is not commonly used today, you can occasionally still find the rare usage here and there.

Here is the entry on wiktionary

But if you look at the ngram viewer graph, you can see both versions had a sporadic usage and were never truly that popular.

Here are a few usages of the word in print.

...but now wee sue in your Lordshipps behalves... (1662)

...rather than that they should occasion a fruitless and calamitous confusion in their behalfs. (1689)

...I'll bring you where he is aboard, tender your persons to his presence, whisper him in your behalfs. (1863)

However, unlike many of the other survey categories, neither guy nor gal was opposed to having their significant other make that cinematic decision on their collective behalves. (2003)

  • The ngram viewer suggests that usage ended around 1875, plus or minus, despite being never really popular. I wonder if something happened then that changed common practice.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 12 '17 at 0:49
  • 1
    What's interesting to note is that "behalve" (note the singular) is a spelling that the OED has listed (used ME until the 15th century). For example, "On Goddes behalve". So I would imagine that there are plenty of results that predate what NGram will show you.
    – Laurel
    Oct 12 '17 at 1:02
  • Is "behalve" singular? One could easily input behalve into NGram as well to track it.
    – KumaAra
    Oct 12 '17 at 1:04
  • 1
    @KumaAra Yes, it's singular (because"Goddes" = "God's"). I don't think NGram will return good results though (I think most of the hits will be reprints or Dutch; the originals are too old). The Middle English Dictionary is worth a look though.
    – Laurel
    Oct 12 '17 at 4:20

Yes, behalves is quite correct as the plural of behalf.

Behalf/Behalves (World Dictionary)

Not to be confused with the word 'behoves'.



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