be·​reft | \ bi-ˈreft How to pronounce bereft (audio) \

Definition of bereft

1a : deprived or robbed of the possession or use of something usually used with of both players are instantly bereft of their poise— A. E. Wier
b : lacking something needed, wanted, or expected used with of the book is … completely bereft of an indexThe Times Literary Supplement (London)
2 : suffering the death of a loved one : bereaved a bereft mother

Synonyms for bereft


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In Old English, the verb berēafian meant "to plunder or rob." The modern equivalent (and descendant) of berēafian is bereave, a verb that implies that you have robbed or stripped someone of something, often suddenly and unexpectedly, and sometimes by force. Bereft comes from the past participle of bereave; Shakespeare uses the participle in The Merchant of Venice, when Bassanio tells Portia, "Madam, you have bereft me of all words." But by Shakespeare's day bereft was also being used as an adjective. The Bard uses it in The Taming of the Shrew, as a newly obedient and docile Katharina declares, "A woman mov'd is like a fountain troubled—muddy, … thick, bereft of beauty."

Examples of bereft in a Sentence

She finds the child's mother, alone, who has apparently gone into the woods just to cry. The bereft mother is played by Julianne Moore. — Stanley Kauffmann, New Republic, 31 Jan. 2000 … made the tabloids when his wife ran off to France with her dentist and the bereft realtor placed a newspaper ad for a girl to adopt to keep him company. — Neal Gabler, Life: The Movie, 1998 It's not that the country was completely bereft of humor. — Joseph Contrevas, Newsweek, 6 June 1994 to one investigator, the bereft woman seemed to be taking the sudden death of her rich husband amazingly well a cheap motel completely bereft of all amenities
Recent Examples on the Web Some are too rickety to reliably relocate delicate bottles and glassware without fear of a smashup, others are bereft of functional features, and still others simply don’t look attractive enough to grace your living space. Rachel Klein, Popular Mechanics, 16 Sep. 2022 When they are ignored, a swath of people can be left bereft or endangered. Maria Fleet, CNN, 4 Sep. 2022 This left Nevada with a roster completely bereft of experience and comparative talent. Xl Media, cleveland, 3 Sep. 2022 His beloved 1744 edition of Cicero was headed north along with nearly 6,500 other volumes, and the Sage of Monticello was bereft. Maris Kreizman, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 May 2022 While Sandlot was always described as a short-term waterfront concept, fans were nonetheless bereft at news that Sandlot would be closing for good at the end of last summer. Christina Tkacik, Baltimore Sun, 27 Apr. 2022 But the team is maddeningly inconsistent, seemingly bereft of a clear idea of its optimal formation, and weak in key positions such as defensive midfield. Ed Caesar, The New Yorker, 21 Jan. 2022 And now, for the first time in its 86-year history, Gunstock is bereft of a management team. Bill Donahue,, 22 July 2022 Stray’s take on the city is obviously bereft of humans, and there’s a familiar cyberpunk story about a malicious corporation bubbling away in the background. Wired, 20 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bereft.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of bereft

1554, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for bereft

see bereave

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Dictionary Entries Near bereft

be reborn


bereft of

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Last Updated

26 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Bereft.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for bereft


be·​reft | \ bi-ˈreft How to pronounce bereft (audio) \

Kids Definition of bereft

1 : not having something needed, wanted, or expected They passed miles of naked grapevines … bereft of their leaves.— Pam Muñoz Ryan, Esperanza Rising
2 : bereaved a bereft mother

More from Merriam-Webster on bereft

Nglish: Translation of bereft for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bereft for Arabic Speakers


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