Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

heir

[air]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. a person who inherits or has a right of inheritance in the property of another following the latter's death.
  2. Law.
    1. (in common law) a person who inherits all the property of a deceased person, as by descent, relationship, will, or legal process.
    2. Civil Law.a person who legally succeeds to the place of a deceased person and assumes the rights and obligations of the deceased, as the liabilities for debts or the possessory rights to property.
  3. a person who inherits or is entitled to inherit the rank, title, position, etc., of another.
  4. a person or group considered as inheriting the tradition, talent, etc., of a predecessor.
verb (used with object)
  1. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. to inherit; succeed to.

Origin of heir

1225–75; Middle English eir, heir < Old French < Latin hērēd- (stem of hērēs); akin to Greek chêros bereaved
Related formsheir·less, adjective
Can be confusedair e'er ere err heir
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for heirless

Historical Examples

  • You have made me childless, but you and yours shall be heirless for ever.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction

    Various

  • He was extremely rich, and unless remote relations were considered, heirless.

  • He seemed like one come back from the dead, for long had his heirless father and people mourned for him.

  • The Abbey would benefit considerably, for, once a monk, Raymond would be heirless.


British Dictionary definitions for heirless

heir

noun
  1. civil law the person legally succeeding to all property of a deceased person, irrespective of whether such person died testate or intestate, and upon whom devolves as well as the rights the duties and liabilities attached to the estate
  2. any person or thing that carries on some tradition, circumstance, etc, from a forerunner
  3. an archaic word for offspring
Derived Formsheirless, adjective

Word Origin

C13: from Old French, from Latin hērēs; related to Greek khēros bereaved
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for heirless

adj.

c.1400, from heir + -less.

heir

n.

c.1300, from Anglo-French heir, Old French oir "heir, successor," from Latin heredem (nominative heres) "heir, heiress" (see heredity). Heir apparent (late 14c.) has the French order of noun-adjective, though it was not originally so written in English. It is the heir of one still alive whose right is clear. After death the heir apparent becomes the heir-at-law.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper