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

transitive verb

archaic : forbid
: to ward off : prevent

Did you know?

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 Heaven forfend! Ron Charles, Washington Post, 3 July 2020 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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'forfend.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near forfend

Cite this Entry

“Forfend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

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