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

Example Sentences

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 Congress could forgive student debt, but with split power in the next session, the chances of success are unlikely. Chris Quintana, USA TODAY, 17 Nov. 2022 Even though a judge scrapped his conviction, freeing him to run for a third term, many Brazilians can't forgive and forget. Ana Ionova, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 Nov. 2022 One certainty: The left will never forgive the shutdown dissenters, notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for being right. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 1 Nov. 2022 Anderson ended the meeting by telling the player he was disappointed but would forgive him, according to the lawsuit. Courtney Tanner, The Salt Lake Tribune, 27 Oct. 2022 Long-suffering Jets fans everywhere may never forgive him. Scottie Andrew, CNN, 20 Oct. 2022 As of right now, the U.S. Department of Education cannot forgive any student loan debt under President Joe Biden’s one-time cancelation plan until at least October 23, and the actual application itself is still not accessible. Alicia Adamczyk, Fortune, 11 Oct. 2022 So forgive Browns safety John Johnson III for stretching the truth a bit when sizing him up. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, 9 Oct. 2022 While the federal government is forgiving student loan debt, Martin will forgive unpaid balances owed to the university. Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star, 8 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

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 6 Dec. 2022.

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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