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

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

After the ceremony, the prince was surrounded by Saudis who held jostled for selfies with the 33-year-old heir to the throne. Aya Batrawy, The Seattle Times, "Saudi Arabia showcases $53B in deals at conference," 28 Jan. 2019 Despite a slumping stock and repeated strategic missteps, Campbell for years avoided activists, partially because a more than 40% stake owned by heirs to the soup dynasty acted as a deterrent. Cara Lombardo, WSJ, "Activist Investors Gain Clout as Stocks Tumble," 26 Dec. 2018 This is also a historic event for Princess Charlotte, who becomes the first female member of the royal family to not get bumped down in the line of succession by a younger male heir. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Louis: Everything You Need to Know About Prince William and Kate Middleton's Third Child," 9 July 2018 As activists were pressured into silence, Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old heir to the throne stepped forth, positioning himself as the force behind the kingdom’s reforms. Aya Batrawy, BostonGlobe.com, "Saudis who sought end to ban on women driving branded traitors," 19 May 2018 The latest vote was a major setback for Rahul Gandhi, the 47-year-old heir to India's Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, who took over as Congress party president from his mother in December. Fox News, "India's Hindu nationalists defeat Congress in state election," 17 May 2018 Charlotte, now 2 years old, made history when her brother was born, being the first female royal to not be knocked out of the line of succession by a male heir. Alex Warner, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton Is Glowing in a Simple Red Dress as She Leaves the Hospital After Giving Birth," 23 Apr. 2018 Liriodendron was gifted to Harford County in the 1970s by Kelly’s heirs and is operated as a museum, gallery and meeting and wedding venue by the nonprofit Liriodendron Foundation. Allan Vought, The Aegis, "Remembering Camp Purnell on the Severn for wounded WWI soldiers to convalesce," 15 Apr. 2018 The court's decision said that any sale would have to be approved by Rackham heirs. Katrease Stafford, Detroit Free Press, "What's the future of Detroit's golf courses? City eyes massive repairs," 2 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

12 May 2019

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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 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

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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