a simple past tense and past participle of bereave.


deprived: They are bereft of their senses. He is bereft of all happiness.

Origin of bereft

First recorded in 1525–35; be- + reft



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.

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for bereft

Contemporary Examples of bereft

Historical Examples of bereft

  • 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



(usually foll by of) deprived; parted (from)bereft of hope


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

Word Origin and History for bereft

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



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