verb (used with object)

to subject to seizure as a forfeit.
to lose or become liable to lose, as in consequence of crime, fault, or breach of engagement.


lost or subject to loss by forfeiture.

Origin of forfeit

1250–1300; Middle English forfet < Old French (past participle of forfaire to commit crime, to lose possession or right through a criminal act) < Medieval Latin forīs factum penalty, past participle of forīs facere to transgress, equivalent to Latin forīs outside, wrongly + facere to make, do
Related formsfor·feit·a·ble, adjectivefor·feit·er, nounnon·for·feit·a·ble, adjectivenon·for·feit·ing, adjectivere·for·feit, verb (used with object)un·for·feit·a·ble, adjectiveun·for·feit·ed, adjectiveun·for·feit·ing, adjective

Synonyms for forfeit Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for forfeit

Contemporary Examples of forfeit

Historical Examples of forfeit

  • I am a loser also; the forfeit money bequeathed to me is gone.

  • Looking at it in the worst light, he has been guilty of nothing to forfeit his right.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • By persisting in your path, though you forfeit the little you gain the great.

    Essays, First Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Going to tell her that you will forfeit your passage money and hers?

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • He is jeopardizing all our lives, and his own has been forfeit these years.


    Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for forfeit



something lost or given up as a penalty for a fault, mistake, etc
the act of losing or surrendering something in this manner
law something confiscated as a penalty for an offence, breach of contract, etc
(sometimes plural)
  1. a game in which a player has to give up an object, perform a specified action, etc, if he commits a fault
  2. an object so given up


(tr) to lose or be liable to lose in consequence of a mistake, fault, etc
(tr) law
  1. to confiscate as punishment
  2. to surrender (something exacted as a penalty)


surrendered or liable to be surrendered as a penalty
Derived Formsforfeitable, adjectiveforfeiter, noun

Word Origin for forfeit

C13: from Old French forfet offence, from forfaire to commit a crime, from Medieval Latin foris facere to act outside (what is lawful), from Latin foris outside + facere to do
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 forfeit

c.1300, "misdeed," from Old French forfait "crime, punishable offense" (12c.), originally past participle of forfaire "transgress," from for- "outside, beyond" (from Latin foris; see foreign) + faire "to do" (from Latin facere; see factitious). Translating Medieval Latin foris factum. Sense shifted mid-15c. from the crime to the penalty: "something to which the right is lost through a misdeed." As an adjective from late 14c., from Old French forfait.


c.1300, "to lose by misconduct;" see forfeit (n.). Related: Forfeited; forfeiting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper