for·​fend | \ fȯr-ˈfend How to pronounce forfend (audio) \
forfended; forfending; forfends

Definition of forfend

transitive verb

1a archaic : forbid
b : to ward off : prevent

Synonyms & Antonyms for forfend



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When forfend was first used in the 14th century, it meant "to forbid." The term is still used with this meaning in phrases like "heaven forfend" or "God forfend," but it bears an antiquated patina communicated in our dictionary with an "archaic" label. Other uses of the word are current, though somewhat uncommon. Forfend comes from Middle English forfenden, from for- (meaning "so as to involve prohibition, exclusion, omission, failure, neglect, or refusal") and fenden, a variant of defenden, meaning "to defend."

Examples of forfend in a Sentence

a place of refuge where the settlers could forfend themselves from attack
Recent Examples on the Web In the United States, instead of building more houses inside the old circle (or, heaven forfend, even closer together and near the places people go), people have built houses even further away. Adam Rogers, Wired, 30 Dec. 2021 But is Twitter outrage (or, heaven forfend, praise) a useful metric for audience engagement? Bethy Squires, Vulture, 27 May 2021 And of course the president says oh, my gosh, heaven forfend that poor Omarosa would have to go. Fox News, 14 Aug. 2018

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

First Known Use of forfend

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near forfend

forfeiture bond



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Cite this Entry

“Forfend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2022.

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