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

Definition of forgive

transitive verb

1 : to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon forgive one's enemies
2a : 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

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Other Words from forgive

forgivable \ fər-​ˈgi-​və-​bəl How to pronounce forgive (audio) , fȯr-​ \ adjective
forgivably \ fər-​ˈgi-​və-​blē How to pronounce forgive (audio) , fȯr-​ \ adverb
forgiver noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for forgive



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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web People like Andy Baio can’t forgive that casual disregard for the historical value of the stupidest stuff, mixed in with the sublime. Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, "Yahoo, the Destroyer," 25 Apr. 2021 Under the Property Clause and the Appropriation Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the executive branch can’t forgive debt that is owed to the federal government without a statutory grant from Congress. Zack Friedman, Forbes, "If Biden Won’t Cancel Student Loans, Here’s One Reason Why," 20 Apr. 2021 Under what authority would Biden forgive this debt? Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times, "Can Biden really cancel student debt? Here’s where the debate stands," 13 Apr. 2021 First of all, forgive yourself for not having the right words. Kasandra Brabaw, SELF, "Your Friend Cheated and Told You About It. What Now?," 9 Apr. 2021 An outstretched hand, ready for a handshake, ready to forgive and forget? Brian Stelter, CNN, "Election denialism is a middle finger to democracy," 21 Nov. 2020 Under federal law, the U.S. Department of Education can forgive federal student loans for borrowers who were deceived. Mara Klecker, Star Tribune, "Minnesota attorney general calls for debt forgiveness for students defrauded by for-profit college," 1 Apr. 2021 Why not forgive student loans for individual borrowers in financial need?). Zack Friedman, Forbes, "America Reacts To $1 Billion Of Student Loan Cancellation," 20 Mar. 2021 If this all sounds decidedly not Grumpy, then forgive me. Steve Bender, Southern Living, "The Grumpy Gardener's Guide to Backyard Birds," 17 Mar. 2021

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

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First Known Use of forgive

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

History and Etymology for forgive

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

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Time Traveler for forgive

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for forgive

Last Updated

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Forgive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for forgive



English Language Learners Definition of forgive

: to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)
: to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)
: to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)


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

Kids Definition of forgive

: to stop feeling angry at or hurt by Please forgive me—I didn't mean it.

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Comments on forgive

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