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Alternation (due to give) of Middle English foryiven, forȝiven, from Old English forġiefan (to forgive, to give), from Proto-Germanic *fragebaną (to give away; give up; release; forgive), equivalent to for- +‎ give (etymologically for- + yive). Cognate with Scots forgeve, forgif, forgie (to forgive), West Frisian ferjaan (to forgive), Dutch vergeven (to forgive), German vergeben (to forgive), Icelandic fyrirgefa (to forgive).


  • enPR: fər-gĭv', fôr-gĭv', IPA(key): /fə(ɹ)ˈɡɪv/, /fɔː(ɹ)ˈɡɪv/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /fɚˈɡɪv/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪv


forgive (third-person singular simple present forgives, present participle forgiving, simple past forgave, past participle forgiven)

  1. (transitive) To pardon; to waive any negative feeling or desire for punishment, retribution, or compensation.
    Please forgive me if my phone goes off - I'm expecting an urgent call from my boss.
    Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.
    Forgive a debt, that is, tell a debtor that a repayment of a loan is no longer needed.
  2. (intransitive) To accord forgiveness.
    • a. 1768, Laurence Sterne, Joseph's History considered; - Forgiveness of Injuries (sermon)
      The brave know only how to forgive [] A coward never forgave; it is not in his nature.

Derived terms[edit]