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See more synonyms for forty-niner on Thesaurus.com
  1. a person, especially a prospector, who went to California in 1849 during the gold rush.
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Origin of forty-niner

An Americanism dating back to 1850–55
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for forty-niner

Historical Examples

  • At the very bottom, when all was said and done, Magnus remained the Forty-niner.

    The Octopus

    Frank Norris

  • His rest was the Forty-niner's arm, as mine is the sportsman's hand.

    Frontier Ballads

    Joseph Mills Hanson

  • Dr. Robinson was a prominent "forty-niner," and the leader of the California squatters in the war against the Sutter land claims.

    The Middle Period 1817-1858

    John William Burgess

  • The government agent was an old friend of mine, a California forty-niner, and a most companionable fellow.

  • Then, since ‘Forty-niner’ got home only he has slept here, and he generally ‘bunks’ on the lounge in this very office.

    Jessica, the Heiress

    Evelyn Raymond

British Dictionary definitions for forty-niner


  1. (sometimes capital) US history a prospector who took part in the California gold rush of 1849
  2. 49er a type of dinghy, designed to be crewed by two people
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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