Word of the Day : June 17, 2011


noun FOR-bair


: 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."


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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