forebear

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noun fore·bear \ ˈfȯr-ˌber \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of forebear

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

forebear was our Word of the Day on 06/17/2011. Hear the podcast!

Examples of forebear in a Sentence

  1. His forebears fought in the American Civil War.

  2. his forebears came to America on the Mayflower

Recent Examples of forebear from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of forebear

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


FOREBEAR Defined for English Language Learners

forebear

play
noun

Definition of forebear for English Language Learners

  • : a member of your family in the past


FOREBEAR Defined for Kids

forebear

noun fore·bear \ ˈfȯr-ˌber \

Definition of forebear for Students



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