forebear

noun
fore·​bear | \ ˈfȯr-ˌber How to pronounce forebear (audio) \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of forebear

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

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Did You Know?

Forebear (also sometimes spelled "forbear") was first used by our ancestors in the days of Middle English. Fore- means "coming before," just as in "forefather," and -bear means "one that is" (not to be confused with the "-bear" in the unrelated verb "forbear," which comes from Old English beran, meaning "to bear or carry"). The "be-" of "-bear" is from the verb "to be" (or, more specifically, from "been," an old dialect variant of "be"). The "-ar" is a form of the suffix -er, which we append to verbs to denote one that performs a specified action. In this case the "action" is simply existing or being - in other words, "-bear" implies one who is a "be-er."

Examples of forebear in a Sentence

His forebears fought in the American Civil War. his forebears came to America on the Mayflower
Recent Examples on the Web The ship is set to follow in its forebear’s footsteps by crossing the Atlantic from Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, this time on a marine research trip. James Brooks And Jill Lawless, USA TODAY, "400 years later, a new Mayflower will sail without humans," 16 Sep. 2020 The ship is set to follow in its forebear’s footsteps by crossing the Atlantic from Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, this time on a marine research trip. James Brooks And Jill Lawless, USA TODAY, "400 years later, a new Mayflower will sail without humans," 16 Sep. 2020 The ship is set to follow in its forebear’s footsteps by crossing the Atlantic from Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, this time on a marine research trip. James Brooks And Jill Lawless, USA TODAY, "400 years later, a new Mayflower will sail without humans," 16 Sep. 2020 The ship is set to follow in its forebear’s footsteps by crossing the Atlantic from Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, this time on a marine research trip. James Brooks And Jill Lawless, chicagotribune.com, "400 years later, a new Mayflower will sail without humans," 15 Sep. 2020 The Allman Betts Band, like its forebear the Allman Brothers Band, is not one for wasting time. cleveland, "Allman Betts Band back with new album, ‘Bless Your Heart’," 25 Aug. 2020 If an e-yuan displaced its hard-copy forebear, that world would dramatically shrink. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Inside China’s drive for digital currency dominance," 10 Aug. 2020 The actual origins of the term are a bit murky, though many point to this tweet from October 2018 as a possible forebear. Angela Watercutter, Wired, "Doomscrolling Is Slowly Eroding Your Mental Health," 25 June 2020 Scorn for precedent is the most venerable youth-culture tradition of them all, making hippies irrelevant as either forebears or entertaining objects of ridicule to anyone under 30. Tom Carson, Los Angeles Times, "Woodstock glorified them. Tarantino barbecued them. In 2019, whither the hippie?," 15 Aug. 2019

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

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First Known Use of forebear

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for forebear

Middle English (Scots), from fore- + -bear (from been to be)

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Time Traveler for forebear

Time Traveler

The first known use of forebear was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

23 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Forebear.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/forebear. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for forebear

forebear

noun
How to pronounce forebear (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of forebear

formal : a member of your family in the past

forebear

noun
fore·​bear | \ ˈfȯr-ˌber \

Kids Definition of forebear

More from Merriam-Webster on forebear

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for forebear

Nglish: Translation of forebear for Spanish Speakers

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