See more synonyms for bereaved on
  1. a bereaved person or persons (usually preceded by the): to extend condolences to the bereaved.

Origin of bereaved

1100–50; Middle English bireved, late Old English birēafod (past participle); see bereave, -ed2
Related formsun·be·reaved, adjective


verb (used with object), be·reaved or be·reft, be·reav·ing.
  1. to deprive and make desolate, especially by death (usually followed by of): Illness bereaved them of their mother.
  2. to deprive ruthlessly or by force (usually followed by of): The war bereaved them of their home.
  3. Obsolete. to take away by violence.

Origin of bereave

before 900; Middle English bereven, Old English berēafian; cognate with Dutch berooven, German berauben, Gothic biraubōn. See be-, reave1
Related formsbe·reave·ment, nounbe·reav·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for bereaved

dispossess, oust, sadden, rob, leave, strip, divest

Examples from the Web for bereaved

Contemporary Examples of bereaved

Historical Examples of bereaved

  • And the lady blessed Evelyn, and felt that, if bereaved, she was not alone.

  • Therefore, like a bereaved mother, she only gave herself the more to her father.

    Salted With Fire

    George MacDonald

  • Where was the beautiful friendship that had been the comfort, the prop of her bereaved life?

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • For a moment he felt as if Vere were bereaved, were motherless.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • I listened to him and remembered an afternoon's visit to a bereaved mother.

    Mountain Meditations

    L. Lind-af-Hageby

British Dictionary definitions for bereaved


  1. having been deprived of something or someone valued, esp through death


verb (tr)
  1. (usually foll by of) to deprive (of) something or someone valued, esp through death
  2. 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

Word Origin and History for bereaved



Old English bereafian "to deprive of, take away, seize, rob," from be + reafian "rob, plunder," from Proto-Germanic *raubojanan, from PIE *reup- "to snatch" (see rapid). A common Germanic formation (cf. Old Frisian birava "despoil," Old Saxon biroban, Dutch berooven, Old High German biroubon, German berauben, Gothic biraubon). Since mid-17c., mostly in reference to life, hope, loved ones, and other immaterial possessions. Past tense forms bereaved and bereft have co-existed since 14c., now slightly differentiated in meaning, the former applied to loss of loved ones, the latter to circumstances.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper