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

Did You Know?

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 Among them, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has gone even further, forswearing private fund-raisers with millionaires that typically fuel campaigns. Victoria Mcgrane,, "Joe Kennedy III pledges not to take cash from corporate PACs," 5 Sep. 2019 Trump may have forsworn retail politics in the baby-kissing, chit-chatting sense of the term. Globe Staff,, "In the 2020 race, campaign swag matters. Can anyone top Trump’s MAGA hat?," 24 Aug. 2019 Much of the field has forsworn corporate PAC and lobbyist donations in general. NBC News, "Bernie Sanders hits back at 'Medicare for All' critics in speech," 17 July 2019 Which states plainly that the Oulipo is a group that forswears ideology. Luc Sante, Harper's magazine, "A Crew of Variegated Weirdos," 10 Jan. 2019 It was forced to forswear many of the perks that similar developing countries enjoyed. The Economist, "Donald Trump insists on trade reciprocity. But what kind?," 12 July 2018 More than 4,000 of them signed a letter saying Google should forswear all defense projects. Tom Simonite, WIRED, "Pentagon Will Expand AI Project Prompting Protests at Google," 29 May 2018 One possible ploy might be to forswear missiles that can hit American cities but to preserve a small nuclear arsenal, perhaps under international supervision. The Economist, "If Donald Trump does meet Kim Jong Un, a lot could go wrong," 15 Mar. 2018 The tactics formulated by the right, and eagerly adopted by Trump, have proved so successful that their opponents would be foolish to forswear them. Kevin Baker, New Republic, "There are no good old days to return to in U.S. politics. The truth about a post-Trump era.," 15 Feb. 2018

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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Last Updated

22 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for forswear

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

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More Definitions for forswear


How to pronounce forswear (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of forswear

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


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on forswear

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for forswear

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with forswear

Spanish Central: Translation of forswear

Nglish: Translation of forswear for Spanish Speakers

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