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verb (used with object), for·bore, for·borne, for·bear·ing.
  1. to refrain or abstain from; desist from.
  2. to keep back; withhold.
  3. Obsolete. to endure.
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verb (used without object), for·bore, for·borne, for·bear·ing.
  1. to refrain; hold back.
  2. to be patient or self-controlled when subject to annoyance or provocation.
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Origin of forbear1

before 900; Middle English forberen, Old English forberan. See for-, bear1
Related formsfor·bear·er, nounfor·bear·ing·ly, adverbnon·for·bear·ing, adjectivenon·for·bear·ing·ly, adverbun·for·bear·ing, adjective


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  1. forebear.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

decline, inhibit, abstain, stop, avoid, omit, escape, forgo, refrain, withhold, desist, pause, cease, evade, eschew, shun, restrain, curb, keep, bridle

Examples from the Web for forbear

Historical Examples

  • For who can forbear to laugh at the bare idea of an Irish bull?

    Tales And Novels, Volume 4 (of 10)

    Maria Edgeworth

  • If you love sack, forbear; for this course will never bring you a drop.

    Maid Marian

    Thomas Love Peacock

  • She could not forbear asking what it was that touched him so much.

  • Dearest Madam, forbear for the present: I am but in my noviciate.

    Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • Let men agree to differ, and, when they do differ, bear and forbear.


    Samuel Smiles

British Dictionary definitions for forbear


verb -bears, -bearing, -bore or -borne
  1. (when intr, often foll by from or an infinitive) to cease or refrain (from doing something)
  2. archaic to tolerate or endure (misbehaviour, mistakes, etc)
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Derived Formsforbearer, nounforbearingly, adverb

Word Origin

Old English forberan; related to Gothic frabairan to endure


  1. a variant spelling of forebear
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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 forbear


"to abstain," Old English forberan "bear up against, control one's feelings, endure," from for- + beran "to bear" (see bear (v.)). Related: Forbearer; forbearing; forbore.

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"ancestor," late 15c., from fore "before" + be-er "one who exists;" agent noun from be.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper