heir

noun
\ˈer \

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 \ adjective
heirship \ˈer-​ˌship \ noun

Synonyms for heir

Synonyms: Noun

heir at law, inheritor, legatee

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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

Despite being closely related to the heirs to the British throne, the baby boy will not hold a royal title. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Pippa Middleton Gives Birth to a Baby Boy," 16 Oct. 2018 At the hearing scheduled May 9, Elizabeth Cameron will be given the opportunity to respond to the heirs. Clifford Ward, chicagotribune.com, "Three-year battle over the estate of blues legend Muddy Waters takes another contentious turn in DuPage County," 18 Apr. 2018 Aquaman — aka Arthur Curry — is the son of a human lighthouse keeper and the Atlantean queen (Nicole Kidman), making him the rightful heir to the throne. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "New extended Aquaman trailer shows off over five minutes of underwater action," 5 Oct. 2018 In 2016, Otis — heir to the Otis elevator company — also used a pickax (and sledgehammer) to destroy the star, all while dressed as a construction worker. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "Bail for the 24-Year-Old Who Destroyed Trump's Walk of Fame Star Was Set at $20,000," 26 July 2018 Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, made a speech. The Economist, "Thanks to Boris Johnson, a farcical west-Balkan summit in London," 11 July 2018 Pritzker, a billionaire heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, also dropped $500,000 to the Cook County Democratic Party, which is now headed by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Chicago Tribune Staff, chicagotribune.com, "Morning Spin: McCarthy says Dan Ryan protest shows change since 2012 NATO summit," 9 July 2018 The talk of him being the heir to Zlatan Ibrahimović might have seemed to some like a bit much. Jonathan Tannenwald, Philly.com, "World Cup schedule, TV and streaming info: England-Sweden, Russia-Croatia," 6 July 2018 Twitter users were quick to point out that the heir to the British throne failed to taste any of the food — at least on camera — during the reality competition. Kathleen Joyce, Fox News, "Prince Charles slammed on Twitter for not eating on 'MasterChef Australia'," 6 July 2018

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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Statistics for heir

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for heir

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

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More Definitions for heir

heir

noun

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 \

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 \

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with heir

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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