forgive

verb

for·​give fər-ˈgiv How to pronounce forgive (audio)
fȯr-
forgave fər-ˈgāv How to pronounce forgive (audio)
fȯr-
; forgiven fər-ˈgi-vən How to pronounce forgive (audio)
fȯr-
; forgiving

transitive verb

1
: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon
forgive one's enemies
2
a
: to give up resentment of or claim to requital (see requital sense 1) for
forgive an insult
b
: to grant relief from payment of
forgive a debt

intransitive verb

: to grant forgiveness
had to learn to forgive and forget
forgivable adjective
forgivably adverb
forgiver noun
Choose the Right Synonym for forgive

excuse, condone, pardon, forgive mean to exact neither punishment nor redress.

excuse may refer to specific acts especially in social or conventional situations or the person responsible for these.

excuse an interruption
excused them for interrupting

Often the term implies extenuating circumstances.

injustice excuses strong responses

condone implies that one overlooks without censure behavior (such as dishonesty or violence) that involves a serious breach of a moral, ethical, or legal code, and the term may refer to the behavior or to the agent responsible for it.

a society that condones alcohol but not narcotics

pardon implies that one remits a penalty due for an admitted or established offense.

pardon a criminal

forgive implies that one gives up all claim to requital and to resentment or vengeful feelings.

could not forgive their rudeness

Examples of forgive in a Sentence

Can you ever forgive me for being so selfish? I've never forgiven myself for the way I treated her. We must ask God to forgive us for our sins. When he feels he's been insulted, he finds it hard to forgive and forget. He finds it hard to forgive an insult. We must ask God to forgive our sins. The government has agreed to forgive some of the debt. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Rather than holding onto grudges, partners may forgive each other to move forward and maintain these feelings of love. Mark Travers, Forbes, 10 Feb. 2024 Follow your conscience, which is more than your parents have been doing — and forgive yourself for not being able to do more. Jeanne Phillips, The Mercury News, 8 Feb. 2024 The administration has already forgiven nearly $132 billion in student loan debt for more than 3.6 million people, and is a positive step forward. Alphonso David, Essence, 8 Feb. 2024 But mostly Wayne was a great friend, a beautiful comrade, and an older brother who helped me to forgive myself for making mistakes, take chances with my music, and never be afraid to help those in need. Sadie Bell, Peoplemag, 5 Feb. 2024 They would be fully forgiven after 13 years of payments. Ira Porter, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 Jan. 2024 More of the same as the fact that both of these presidents put us trillions of dollars in debt, and our kids are never going to forgive us for it. CBS News, 21 Jan. 2024 Instead, forgive yourself, adjust your goal if necessary, and lace up those sneakers. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, 19 Jan. 2024 Advertisement As part of the settlement, people who were cited can ask for fines to be forgiven, and the city has vowed to try to add more parking lots for homeless people and make improvements to an existing lot. Gary Warth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'forgive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Old English forgifan, from for- + gifan to give

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of forgive was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near forgive

Cite this Entry

“Forgive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/forgive. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

forgive

verb
for·​give fər-ˈgiv How to pronounce forgive (audio)
fȯr-
forgave -ˈgāv How to pronounce forgive (audio) ; forgiven -ˈgiv-ən How to pronounce forgive (audio) ; forgiving
1
a
: to give up resentment of or claim to revenge for
forgive an insult
b
: to stop requiring payment of
forgive a debt
2
: to stop feeling anger toward (an offender)
forgive your enemies
forgivable adjective
forgiver noun

More from Merriam-Webster on forgive

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