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Alternative forms[edit]


From fore- +‎ beer (one who is or exists).


forebear (plural forebears)

  1. An ancestor.
    • [1906] 2004, Memoirs of the Lord of Joinville, Ethel Wedgwood tr.
      Sirs, I am quite sure that the King of England's forbears rightly and justly lost the conquered lands that I hold []
    • [1936] 2004, Raymond William Firth, We the Tikopia [1]
      One does not take one’s family name therefrom, and again the position of the mother in that group is determined through her father and his male forbears in turn; this too is a patrilineal group.
    • 1997, H. L. Hix, Understanding W. S. Merwin[2]:
      Beginning with the bald declaration “I think I was cold in the womb,” the speaker in “The Forbears” then decides that his brother (who died soon after birth) must also have been cold in the womb, like his grandfather John and the forbears who antedated John.
    • 2013 June 14, Jonathan Freedland, “Obama's once hip brand is now tainted”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 1, page 18:
      Now we are liberal with our innermost secrets, spraying them into the public ether with a generosity our forebears could not have imagined. Where we once sent love letters in a sealed envelope, or stuck photographs of our children in a family album, now such private material is despatched to servers and clouds operated by people we don't know and will never meet.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Not to be confused with: forbear verb.




forebear (third-person singular simple present forebears, present participle forebearing, simple past forebore, past participle foreborne)

  1. Obsolete spelling of forbear