heir

noun
\ ˈer How to pronounce heir (audio) \

Definition of heir

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one who receives property from an ancestor : one who is entitled to inherit property was her father's sole heir
2 : one who inherits or is entitled to succeed to a hereditary rank, title, or office heir to the throne
3 : one who receives or is entitled to receive something other than property from a parent or predecessor saw himself as the logical heir to the slain dictator

heir

verb
heired; heiring; heirs

Definition of heir (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

chiefly dialectal

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Other Words from heir

Noun

heirless \ ˈer-​ləs How to pronounce heirless (audio) \ adjective
heirship \ ˈer-​ˌship How to pronounce heirship (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for heir

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of heir in a Sentence

Noun His heirs could inherit millions of dollars. The king left no heirs when he died.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Court papers list three sons and one daughter as heirs. oregonlive, "Woman, 92, suffers 7 broken bones and dies after ambulance workers drop her on sidewalk, $4M lawsuit says," 19 Nov. 2019 In his speech announcing the founding of the caliphate from Mosul, the publicity-shy Baghdadi made a very public claim as the living heir to the line of great warrior-emirs from Islam's early history. Author: Joby Warrick, Anchorage Daily News, "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief,’ dead at 48," 27 Oct. 2019 Ian Brodie, a former chief of staff to Canada's previous Conservative prime minister, said Scheer won't have to face the same expectations as Trudeau, who was viewed as the heir to Obama's progressive mantle. Fox News, "Canada's Conservatives offer bland option to Trudeau's flash in Monday's national elections," 21 Oct. 2019 Trump, who was a registered Democrat during most of that period, doesn’t see himself as an heir to that tradition. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Foreign policy is on the 2020 ballot, right alongside Trump," 20 Oct. 2019 She has been lauded as an heir to Virginia Woolf, nominated as a candidate for the Nobel Prize, and, in French-language literary circles, has become indisputably canonical. Pasha Malla, The New Yorker, "Will American Readers Ever Catch on to Marie-Claire Blais?," 16 Sep. 2019 Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, is said to be frustrated with his brother’s behavior, viewing him as a liability. Mark Landler, New York Times, "After Disastrous Epstein Interview, Prince Andrew Steps Down From Public Duties," 20 Nov. 2019 The rest of the royal family publicly paid tribute to the heir to the British throne in a series of touching posts on Instagram. Kayleigh Roberts, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Royals Are Showering Prince Charles with Love on Instagram in Honor of His 71st Birthday," 14 Nov. 2019 In 2004, the Massachusetts attorney general ordered Cabot Jr., the heir to a mutual fund pioneer, to pay $4 million in restitution. Philip Hackney, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Trump’s charity woes are uncommon, if not unprecedented, and could get more costly," 11 Nov. 2019

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

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for heir

Noun

Middle English eir, eyre, heir, borrowed from Anglo-French heir, going back to Vulgar Latin *hērem, *hēre, taken as oblique forms (by declension reassignment) of Latin hērēd-, hērēs, from hēr- (probably going back to Indo-European *ǵheh1ro- "abandoned, derelict," whence also Greek chêros "widowed, orphaned, bereaved," chérā "widow") + -ēd-, perhaps a suffixal element

Note: Latin hērēd- has been directly compared with the base of Greek chērōstaí "kinsmen inheriting the property of a person lacking closer relatives" (with the agent suffix -tēs). Opposing the interpretation of *-ēd-/*-ōd- as a suffixal element is an older explanation that sees the etymon as a compound of *ǵheh1ro- and the verbal base *h1ed- "eat"—the whole hence meaning approximately "that which devours what is left behind." (The Greek outcome would then be from *ǵheh1ro-h1d-, with zero grade of the verb.) The adjective *ǵheh1ro- has been taken as a derivative of the verbal base *ǵheh1- "let go, leave behind" (see go entry 1).

Verb

Middle English erren, heyren, derivative of eir, eyre heir entry 1

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Time Traveler for heir

Time Traveler

The first known use of heir was in the 13th century

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Statistics for heir

Last Updated

8 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Heir.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heir. Accessed 12 December 2019.

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More Definitions for heir

heir

noun
How to pronounce heir (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of heir

: a person who has the legal right to receive the property of someone who dies
: a person who has the right to become a king or queen or to claim a title when the person holding it dies

heir

noun
\ ˈer How to pronounce heir (audio) \

Kids Definition of heir

1 : a person who inherits or has the right to inherit property after the death of its owner
2 : a person who has legal claim to a title or a throne when the person holding it dies

heir

noun
\ ˈar How to pronounce heir (audio) \

Legal Definition of heir

: one who inherits or is entitled to succeed to the possession of property after the death of its owner: as
a : one who by operation of law inherits the property and especially the real property of a person who dies without leaving a valid will used in jurisdictions whose law is based on English common law

called also heir at law, heir general, legal heir

— compare issue
b in the civil law of Louisiana : one who succeeds to the estate of a person by will or especially by operation of law — see also intestacy, unworthy — compare ancestor, devisee, legatee, next of kin, successor
apparent heir
: heir apparent in this entry
beneficiary heir
in the civil law of Louisiana : an heir who exercises the benefit of inventory which limits the amount of his or her liability for the decedent's debts
bodily heir
: heir of the body in this entry
forced heir
: an heir who cannot be disinherited except for causes recognized by law especially, in the civil law of Louisiana : an heir who because of youth or mental or physical infirmity cannot care for himself or herself and who cannot be deprived of his or her lawful portion of the decedent's estate by disinherison without just cause — see also legitime
heir ab intestato \ -​ˌab-​ˌin-​tes-​ˈtā-​tō, -​ˌäb-​ˌin-​tes-​ˈtä-​tō \ plural heirs ab intestato
in the civil law of Louisiana : an heir that takes only by operation of the laws governing intestate succession
heir apparent plural heirs apparent
: an heir whose right to an inheritance cannot be voided or undone except by exclusion under a valid will if he or she survives the ancestor

called also apparent heir

— compare heir presumptive in this entry
heir at law
heir general plural heirs general
heir in tail
: an heir to a fee-tail estate

called also heir of entail

heir of the body
: an heir who is a lineal descendant especially as contrasted with a collateral descendant

called also bodily heir

heir presumptive plural heirs presumptive
: an heir whose right to inherit may be defeated by the birth of a nearer relative or by exclusion under a valid will

called also presumptive heir

— compare heir apparent in this entry
instituted heir
in the civil law of Louisiana : an heir who is named in the will but whose legacy will fall to a substitute legatee under a vulgar substitution in the event that he or she refuses the legacy or dies before the testator

called also instituted legatee

irregular heir
in the civil law of Louisiana : an heir who inherits a right of action to the estate as distinguished from seisin

Note: This class of heirs was eliminated as of January 1, 1982. Formerly, a decedent's illegitimate children and spouse were considered irregular heirs.

legal heir
: heir sense a specifically, in the civil law of Louisiana : an heir who receives seisin immediately after the death of the intestate by operation of law — compare irregular heir in this entry

Note: Prior to 1982 the Louisiana Civil Code distinguished between legal and irregular heirs who were required to go through an additional procedure in order to receive possession of the property. This division of heirs was eliminated in the 1981 revision of the Civil Code.

natural heir
: an heir (as a child) whose status as an heir arises from especially close blood relationship as distinguished from one (as the state) whose status arises by operation of statute
presumptive heir
: heir presumptive in this entry
pretermitted heir
: a descendant of a testator who would be an heir under the laws of intestacy but who is not named to take under the will

Note: Most states have statutes requiring a share of the estate to go to a pretermitted heir, especially one born after the execution of the will, on the assumption that the omission was unintentional.

right heir
1 : an heir by blood
2 : the particular heir granted or devised an estate tail as distinguished from the heirs in general
testamentary heir
in the civil law of Louisiana : an heir who inherits under a will

Other Words from heir

heirless adjective
heirship noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on heir

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for heir

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with heir

Spanish Central: Translation of heir

Nglish: Translation of heir for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of heir for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about heir

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