forgive

verb

for·​give fər-ˈgiv How to pronounce forgive (audio)
fȯr-
forgave fər-ˈgāv How to pronounce forgive (audio)
fȯr-
; forgiven fər-ˈgi-vən How to pronounce forgive (audio)
fȯr-
; forgiving

transitive verb

1
: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon
forgive one's enemies
2
a
: to give up resentment of or claim to requital (see requital sense 1) for
forgive an insult
b
: to grant relief from payment of
forgive a debt

intransitive verb

: to grant forgiveness
had to learn to forgive and forget
forgivable adjective
forgivably adverb
forgiver noun
Choose the Right Synonym for forgive

excuse, condone, pardon, forgive mean to exact neither punishment nor redress.

excuse may refer to specific acts especially in social or conventional situations or the person responsible for these.

excuse an interruption
excused them for interrupting

Often the term implies extenuating circumstances.

injustice excuses strong responses

condone implies that one overlooks without censure behavior (such as dishonesty or violence) that involves a serious breach of a moral, ethical, or legal code, and the term may refer to the behavior or to the agent responsible for it.

a society that condones alcohol but not narcotics

pardon implies that one remits a penalty due for an admitted or established offense.

pardon a criminal

forgive implies that one gives up all claim to requital and to resentment or vengeful feelings.

could not forgive their rudeness

Example Sentences

Can you ever forgive me for being so selfish? I've never forgiven myself for the way I treated her. We must ask God to forgive us for our sins. When he feels he's been insulted, he finds it hard to forgive and forget. He finds it hard to forgive an insult. We must ask God to forgive our sins. The government has agreed to forgive some of the debt. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The film positions itself, in part, as an indictment of a broader culture that encourages us to forgive and forget misbehavior by privileged groups. Chicago Tribune, 21 Jan. 2023 The film positions itself, in part, as an indictment of a broader culture that encourages us to forgive and forget misbehavior by privileged groups. Los Angeles Times, 20 Jan. 2023 Despite the controversy, a lot of our fave actors and actresses are willingly to forgive and forget — or at least forget — the drama for now. Katherine Singh, refinery29.com, 11 Jan. 2023 The women of the community have already voted in a referendum offering three choices: do nothing — forgive, forget and hope for the best; stay and fight; or leave. A.o. Scott, New York Times, 22 Dec. 2022 But the Department of Education has launched a separate program that could reduce the student loan burden for up to 3.6 million borrowers—and forgive the loans of more than 40,000 Americans. Solcyre Burga, Time, 21 Dec. 2022 Last week this column noted that Democrats who joined in political attacks on police need voters to forgive and forget the crime surge that followed. James Freeman, WSJ, 21 Sep. 2022 My takeaway was that Binh is quick to forgive and forget, and Morgan was pretty deeply hurt. Ryan Ignasiak, Peoplemag, 24 Aug. 2022 At issue is whether the department had the legal authority to forgive so much debt in one fell swoop. Los Angeles Times, 10 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'forgive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Old English forgifan, from for- + gifan to give

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of forgive was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near forgive

Cite this Entry

“Forgive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/forgive. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

forgive

verb
for·​give fər-ˈgiv How to pronounce forgive (audio)
fȯr-
forgave -ˈgāv How to pronounce forgive (audio) ; forgiven -ˈgiv-ən How to pronounce forgive (audio) ; forgiving
1
a
: to give up resentment of or claim to revenge for
forgive an insult
b
: to stop requiring payment of
forgive a debt
2
: to stop feeling anger toward (an offender)
forgive your enemies
forgivable adjective
forgiver noun

More from Merriam-Webster on forgive

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