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See more synonyms for bereft on Thesaurus.com
  1. a simple past tense and past participle of bereave.
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  1. deprived: They are bereft of their senses. He is bereft of all happiness.
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Origin of bereft

First recorded in 1525–35; be- + reft


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.
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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
Related formsbe·reave·ment, nounbe·reav·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for bereft

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • She rested supinely against him, as if bereft of any strength of body or of soul.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Upbraid me with the loss of all of which you have bereft me.

  • Had he, too, been bereft in the hour of his proud and perfect joy?

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • For a moment Nuttall was bereft of speech by such ingratitude.

    Captain Blood

    Rafael Sabatini

  • The knight's words restored to him the courage of which Rosamund's had bereft him.

    The Sea-Hawk

    Raphael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for bereft


  1. (usually foll by of) deprived; parted (from)bereft of hope
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verb (tr)
  1. (usually foll by of) to deprive (of) something or someone valued, esp through death
  2. obsolete to remove by force
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See also bereft

Word Origin

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 bereft


late 14c., past participle adjective from bereave (v.).

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper