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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-niners

Historical Examples

  • "My father was one of the 'forty-niners,'" put in Jim, eagerly.

    The Boy With the U.S. Miners

    Francis Rolt-Wheeler

  • I do not doubt they too were Forty-niners; but I did not stop.


    Stewart White

  • Min was exactly the type of girl to fit into the story of The 123 Forty-Niners.

  • These first comers were called the Forty-Niners, because most of them came in the year 1849.

  • Excuse this diversion, I must get back to my subject, the days of the forty-niners.

British Dictionary definitions for forty-niners


  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

forty-niners in Culture


Those who flocked to California in 1849 in search of gold, which had been discovered there in 1848. Reportedly, there were about eighty thousand of them.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.