[ bih-reev ]
/ bɪˈriv /
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See synonyms for: bereave / bereaved / bereft / bereavement on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), be·reaved or be·reft, be·reav·ing.
to deprive and make desolate, especially by death (usually followed by of): Illness bereaved them of their mother.
to deprive ruthlessly or by force (usually followed by of): The war bereaved them of their home.
Obsolete. to take away by violence.
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The rainy weather could not ________ my elated spirits on my graduation day.
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Origin of bereave

before 900; Middle English bereven,Old English berēafian; cognate with Dutch berooven,German berauben,Gothic biraubōn.See be-, reave1


be·reave·ment, nounbe·reav·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does bereave mean?

To bereave means to take away and leave devastated. Death bereaves us of our loved ones.

Bereave can also mean to deprive by force, as in War has bereaved them of their homes. 

Those who are devastated by the loss of loved ones can be described as bereaved or bereft. These words can also apply to those who have suffered other serious losses.

Bereave is most often used in the context of death. The noun form of bereave is bereavement, referring to a period of mourning or or state of intense grief, especially following the death of a loved one. Bereavement can also be used more generally to mean the state of having lost something very dear.

Example: Violence has bereaved us of yet another young person.

Where does bereave come from?

The first records of the word bereave come from before 900. Bereave is related to the word reave, which means “to rob.”

Death bereaves us of loved ones—it robs us of them. Bereave is often used as a verb along with a subject that caused the death, such as an illness, a murder, or the person who committed it. Even when bereave is used more generally, it’s still often gravely serious. Things like war bereave people of their homes and livelihoods. A person going through bereavement is often referred to as the bereaved.

Bereave should not be confused with grieve. Grieve sounds similar but is based on a different root, the Latin word gravāre, meaning “to burden.” Those who are bereaved are often grieving (not bereaving).

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What are some other forms of bereave?

What are some synonyms for bereave?

What are some words that share a root or word element with bereave

What are some words that often get used in discussing bereave?

How is bereave used in real life?

Bereave is most commonly used in the context of death. It is almost always used seriously.



Try using bereave!

Is bereave used correctly in the following sentence?

Cancer has bereaved me of two family members.

How to use bereave in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for bereave

/ (bɪˈriːv) /

verb (tr)
(usually foll by of) to deprive (of) something or someone valued, esp through death
obsolete to remove by force
See also bereft

Word Origin for bereave

Old English bereafian; see reave 1
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