1 : to ward off : prevent
2 : protect, preserve
The fort functioned as a place of refuge where the settlers could forfend themselves from attack.
"'Sir!' Scotty sounded genuinely indignant. 'You're not suggesting that I would let any piece of equipment aboard my ship fall into disrepair, are you?' 'Heaven forfend, Scotty,' Kirk answered, successfully keeping the smile he wore from his voice." - From William Leisner's 2013 book Star Trek: The Original Series: The Shocks of Adversity
Did You Know?
English speakers have been using "forfend" with the meanings "to forbid" and "to prevent" since the late 14th century, and the meaning "to protect" since the late 16th century. These days, however, the "forbid" sense is considered archaic; we only use it (as in our second example) in phrases like "heaven forfend" or "God forfend." "Forfend" comes from "for-" (an old prefix meaning "so as to involve prohibition, exclusion, omission, failure, neglect, or refusal") and Middle English "fenden" (a shorter variant of "defenden," meaning "to defend").
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Memory
What is the meaning of "asseverate," our Word of the Day from October 21? The answer is …