for·​fend | \fȯr-ˈfend \
forfended; forfending; forfends

Definition of forfend 

transitive verb

1a archaic : forbid

b : to ward off : prevent

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for forfend


bulwark, cover, defend, fence, fend, guard, keep, protect, safeguard, screen, secure, shield, ward


assail, assault, attack

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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").

Examples of forfend in a Sentence

a place of refuge where the settlers could forfend themselves from attack

First Known Use of forfend

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about forfend

Listen to Our Podcast about forfend

Statistics for forfend

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for forfend

The first known use of forfend was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

More from Merriam-Webster on forfend

See words that rhyme with forfend

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for forfend

Comments on forfend

What made you want to look up forfend? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!