for·​swear | \ fȯr-ˈswer How to pronounce forswear (audio) \
variants: or less commonly
forswore\ fȯr-​ˈswȯr How to pronounce forswear (audio) \; forsworn\ fȯr-​ˈswȯrn How to pronounce forswear (audio) \; forswearing

Definition of forswear

transitive verb

1 : to make a liar of (oneself) under or as if under oath
2a : to reject or renounce under oath
b : to renounce earnestly
3 : to deny under oath

intransitive verb

: to swear falsely

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Choose the Right Synonym for forswear

abjure, renounce, forswear, recant, retract mean to withdraw one's word or professed belief. abjure implies a firm and final rejecting or abandoning often made under oath. abjured the errors of his former faith renounce may carry the meaning of disclaim or disown. renounced abstract art and turned to portrait painting forswear may add an implication of perjury or betrayal. I cannot forswear my principles recant stresses the withdrawing or denying of something professed or taught. if they recant they will be spared retract applies to the withdrawing of a promise, an offer, or an accusation. the newspaper had to retract the story

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Forswear (which is also sometimes spelled foreswear) is the modern English equivalent of the Old English forswerian. It can suggest denial ("[Thou] would'st forswear thy own hand and seal"—John Arbuthnot, John Bull) or perjury ("Is it the interest of any man … to lie, forswear himself, indulge hatred, seek desperate revenge, or do murder?"—Charles Dickens, American Notes). But in current use, it most often has to do with giving something up, as in "the warring parties agreed to forswear violence" and "she refused to forswear her principles." The word abjure is often used as a synonym of forswear, though with less emphasis on the suggestion of perjury or betrayal of the beliefs that one holds dear.

Examples of forswear in a Sentence

She forswore her allegiance to the old regime. He foreswore cigarettes as his New Year's resolution.
Recent Examples on the Web McCarthy's refusal to forswear his relationship with Trump and his decision to repair it is the latest troubling sign that vast swaths of the Republican Party have turned their backs on the standards and obligations of democracy. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 16 July 2021 And, perhaps most important, the U.S. should press Egypt and Qatar to use their leverage to rein in Hamas and force Palestinians to hold new elections and unify their leadership with candidates who forswear violence against Israelis. Star Tribune, 6 July 2021 The rule of law is vital to free and fair elections, and Mr. Trump is right not to forswear his legal options. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 24 Sep. 2020 And while no nation has declared its intention to build fully autonomous weapons, few have forsworn them either. Paul Scharre, Wired, 19 May 2020 Many of you have already forsworn, what seemed at the time, to be the unfathomable. Adrienne M. Buckley, Good Housekeeping, 31 Mar. 2020 Among them, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has gone even further, forswearing private fund-raisers with millionaires that typically fuel campaigns., 27 Sep. 2019 Among them, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has gone even further, forswearing private fund-raisers with millionaires that typically fuel campaigns., 27 Sep. 2019 Other major candidates, like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have forsworn and repeatedly criticized super PACs on the campaign trail. Adam Brewster, CBS News, 28 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'forswear.' 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 forswear

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for forswear

Middle English forsweren, from Old English forswerian, from for- + swerian to swear

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

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Cite this Entry

“Forswear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for forswear



English Language Learners Definition of forswear

: to promise to give up (something) or to stop doing (something)


for·​swear | \ fōr-ˈswar \
forswore\ -​ˈswōr How to pronounce forswear (audio) \; forsworn\ -​ˈswōrn How to pronounce forswear (audio) \; forswearing

Legal Definition of forswear

transitive verb

1 : to reject, renounce, or deny under oath
2 : to renounce earnestly

intransitive verb

: to swear falsely : commit false swearing

More from Merriam-Webster on forswear

Nglish: Translation of forswear for Spanish Speakers


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