for·​bear | \ fȯr-ˈber How to pronounce forbear (audio) , fər- \
forbore\ fȯr-​ˈbȯr How to pronounce forbore (audio) , fər-​ \; forborne\ fȯr-​ˈbȯrn How to pronounce forborne (audio) , fər-​ \; forbearing

Definition of forbear

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to hold oneself back from especially with an effort forbore mentioning the incident tried to forbear making rash judgments
2 obsolete : to do without
3 obsolete : to leave alone : shun forbear his presence— William Shakespeare

intransitive verb

1 : hold back, abstain have forborne from taking part in any controversy— Abraham Lincoln
2 : to control oneself when provoked : be patient forbore with his friend's failings



less common spelling of

: ancestor, forefather also : precursor usually used in plural His forebears fought in the American Civil War.

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Other Words from forbear


forbearer noun

Examples of forbear in a Sentence

Verb He carefully forbore any mention of her name for fear of upsetting them. We decided to forbear provoking him any further. We decided to forbear from provoking him any further. He forebore to mention her name.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb So, if a person is enacting their right to resistance, then bystanders have an obligation to forbear and not to interfere. TheWeek, "Sometimes the most powerful act of resistance is to do nothing," 12 Apr. 2020 But crucially, the FCC did not forbear from a few parts of Title II that protect consumers in other ways. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "If FCC gets its way, we’ll lose a lot more than net neutrality," 12 July 2017

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

First Known Use of forbear


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

History and Etymology for forbear


Middle English forberen, from Old English forberan to endure, do without, from for- + beran to bear

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Time Traveler for forbear

Time Traveler

The first known use of forbear was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Forbear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for forbear


How to pronounce forbear (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of forbear

formal : to choose not to do (something that you could do) : to avoid doing or saying (something)


for·​bear | \ fȯr-ˈber How to pronounce forbear (audio) \
forbore\ -​ˈbȯr \; forborne\ -​ˈbȯrn \; forbearing

Kids Definition of forbear

1 : to hold back He forbore from hitting the bully back.
2 : to be patient when annoyed or troubled

More from Merriam-Webster on forbear

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for forbear

Nglish: Translation of forbear for Spanish Speakers

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