1

heir

noun \ ˈer \

Definition of heir

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

heirless

play \ˈer-ləs\ adjective

heirship

play \ˈer-ˌship\ noun

Examples of heir in a Sentence

  1. His heirs could inherit millions of dollars.

  2. The king left no heirs when he died.

Recent Examples of heir from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of heir

Middle English, from Anglo-French eir, heir, from Latin hered-, heres; akin to Greek chēros bereaved


2

heir

verb

Definition of heir

transitive verb
chiefly dialectal

Origin and Etymology of heir

see 1heir


HEIR Defined for English Language Learners

heir

noun

Definition of heir for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

heir

noun \ ˈer \

Definition of heir for Students

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

Headscratcher for heir

Since an heir inherits, you might expect heir to sound like the -her- in inherit. Instead, heir sounds like air.


Law Dictionary

heir

noun \ ˈar \

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; especiallyin 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 a
heir general plural heirs general
:heir a
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 a; specificallyin 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

heirless

adjective

heirship

noun


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