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

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

His parents' only claim to it is as heirs under state intestacy laws, which determine the priority of claims to estates of those who die without wills directing who should get their assets. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Mother opposes father's share of settlement in son's death at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex," 6 July 2018 Independence Park holds that particular publicly read copy of the Declaration, presented to the park in 1951 by Nixon’s heirs. Stephan Salisbury, Philly.com, "Rare version of the Declaration of Independence on display at the Museum of the American Revolution just in time for July 4th," 26 June 2018 Jameel is an heir to the Abdul Latif Jameel business dynasty of Saudi Arabia. Stephanie Petit, PEOPLE.com, "Rihanna Responds to Photos of Her Feuding with Boyfriend Hassan Jameel with Lion Meme," 12 July 2018 Despite Apple’s best efforts, nothing it’s made recently has been a worthy heir to that throne, and PC makers have been all too happy to try to fill that gap. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "Apple’s new MacBook Pros have the latest Intel processors and quieter keyboards," 12 July 2018 Other business titans who have built mega-homes in the area include billionaire Anthony Pritzker , an heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune who owns a 49,300-square-foot compound with a bowling alley, hairdressing area and gym on nearby Angelo Drive. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, "Paul Allen Asks $150 Million for 120 Acres of L.A. Land," 10 July 2018 There's less pressure to produce an heir to the throne. Marcia Moody, Town & Country, "How Meghan Markle's First Year as a Royal Will Compare with Kate Middleton’s," 27 June 2018 Mayor Koch called for a Charter Review Commission, tasked with rewriting the city’s de facto Constitution, and asked Frederick A.O. Schwarz, an heir to the former Fifth Avenue toy store, to lead it. David Freedlander, Daily Intelligencer, "Not That Long Ago, New York City Really Was Run From a Smoke-filled Backroom," 14 June 2018 But sadly, there will come a day when Queen Elizabeth's reign ends and an heir will take the throne. Alex Warner, Marie Claire, "This Is Exactly What Will Happen When Queen Elizabeth II Dies," 11 Apr. 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

10 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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