Word of the Day : June 17, 2011

forebear

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noun FOR-bair

Definition

: ancestor, forefather; also : precursor

Did You Know?

"Forebear" (also sometimes spelled "forbear") was first used by our ancestors in the days of Middle English. "Fore-" means "coming before," just as in "forefather," and "-bear" means "one that is" (not to be confused with the "-bear" in the unrelated verb "forbear," which comes from Old English "beran," meaning "to bear or carry"). The "be-" of "-bear" is from the verb "to be" (or, more specifically, from "been," an old dialect variant of "be"). The "-ar" is a form of the suffix "-er," which we append to verbs to denote one that performs a specified action. In this case the "action" is simply existing or being -- in other words, "-bear" implies one who is a "be-er."


Examples

Though several of her male forebears had graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Tina was the first woman of the family to do so.

"Our superstitious forebears used to say: Don't get up on the wrong side of the bed." -- From an article in the Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Massachusetts), April 28, 2011



Word Family Quiz

What 6-letter relative of "forebear" begins with "b" and means "to be on one's guard"? The answer is ...


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