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  1. disposed to forgive; indicating forgiveness: a forgiving soul; a forgiving smile.
  2. tolerant: The mountain is not forgiving of inexperienced climbers.

Origin of forgiving

First recorded in 1680–90; forgive + -ing2
Related formsfor·giv·ing·ly, adverbfor·giv·ing·ness, nounnon·for·giv·ing, adjective


verb (used with object), for·gave, for·giv·en, for·giv·ing.
  1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
  2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
  3. to grant pardon to (a person).
  4. to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one's enemies.
  5. to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.
verb (used without object), for·gave, for·giv·en, for·giv·ing.
  1. to pardon an offense or an offender.

Origin of forgive

before 900; for- + give; replacing Middle English foryiven, Old English forgiefan
Related formsfor·giv·a·ble, adjectivefor·giv·er, nounhalf-for·giv·en, adjectivepre·for·give, verb (used with object) pre·for·gave, pre·for·giv·en, pre·for·giv·ing.un·for·giv·a·ble, adjectiveun·for·giv·a·ble·ness, nounun·for·giv·a·bly, adverbun·for·giv·en, adjective
Can be confusedcommute forgive pardon (see synonym study at pardon)

Synonyms for forgive

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1. See excuse. 3. absolve, acquit. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for forgiving

lenient, merciful, magnanimous, accepting, kind

Examples from the Web for forgiving

Contemporary Examples of forgiving

Historical Examples of forgiving

  • Are none to be gentle and kind, none to be piteous and forgiving?

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • He has suffered too much at my hands to be in a forgiving mood.

  • Forgiving does not mean forgetting—at least, it does not with me.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • Previously she had been forgiving and not seriously offended, even when he had been blind drunk.


    Emile Zola

  • He was forgiving and forbearing and kinder than I had any right to expect.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for forgiving


  1. willing to forgive; merciful
Derived Formsforgivingly, adverbforgivingness, noun


verb -gives, -giving, -gave or -given
  1. to cease to blame or hold resentment against (someone or something)
  2. to grant pardon for (a mistake, wrongdoing, etc)
  3. (tr) to free or pardon (someone) from penalty
  4. (tr) to free from the obligation of (a debt, payment, etc)
Derived Formsforgivable, adjectiveforgivably, adverbforgiver, noun

Word Origin for forgive

Old English forgiefan; see for-, give
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 forgiving

"inclined to forgive," 1680s, from present participle of forgive. Related: Forgivingness.



Old English forgiefan "give, grant, allow; forgive," also "to give up" and "to give in marriage;" from for- "completely" + giefan "give" (see give).

The modern sense of "to give up desire or power to punish" is from use of the compound as a Germanic loan-translation of Latin perdonare (cf. Old Saxon fargeban, Dutch vergeven, German vergeben, Gothic fragiban; see pardon). Related: Forgave; forgiven; forgiving.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper