From Middle English bireven, from Old English berēafian (“to bereave, deprive of, take away, seize, rob, despoil”), from Proto-Germanic *biraubōną, and Old English berēofan (“to bereave, deprive, rob of”); both equivalent to be- + reave. Cognate with Dutch beroven (“to rob, deprive, bereave”), German berauben (“to deprive, rob, bereave”), Danish berøve (“to deprive of”), Norwegian berove (“to deprive”), Swedish beröva (“to rob”), Gothic 𐌱𐌹𐍂𐌰𐌿𐌱𐍉𐌽 (biraubōn).
- (transitive) To deprive by or as if by violence; to rob; to strip; to benim.
- (transitive, obsolete) To take away by destroying, impairing, or spoiling; take away by violence.
- 1591, William Shakespeare, “The Second Part of Henry the Sixt, […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene i]:
- All your interest in those territories
Is utterly bereft you; all is lost.
- 1589, Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta
- […] shall move you to bereave my life.
- (transitive) To deprive of power; prevent.
- (transitive) To take away someone or something that is important or close; deprive.
- Death bereaved him of his wife.
- The castaways were bereft of hope.
- (intransitive, rare) To destroy life; cut off.