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From Middle English heir, from Anglo-Norman eir, heir, from Latin hērēs.



heir (plural heirs)

  1. Someone who inherits, or is designated to inherit, the property of another.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare
      I am my father's heir and only son.
    • 1959, Georgette Heyer, chapter 1, in The Unknown Ajax:
      And no use for anyone to tell Charles that this was because the Family was in mourning for Mr Granville Darracott […]: Charles might only have been second footman at Darracott Place for a couple of months when that disaster occurred, but no one could gammon him into thinking that my lord cared a spangle for his heir.
  2. One who inherits, or has been designated to inherit, a hereditary title or office.
  3. A successor in a role, representing continuity with the predecessor.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Alexander Pope
      And I his heir in misery alone.
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter I, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326:
      "I wish we were back in Tenth Street. But so many children came [] and the Tenth Street house wasn't half big enough; and a dreadful speculative builder built this house and persuaded Austin to buy it. Oh, dear, and here we are among the rich and great; and the steel kings and copper kings and oil kings and their heirs and dauphins. []"
    • 2013 May 11, “What a waste”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8835, page 12:
      India is run by gerontocrats and epigones: grey hairs and groomed heirs.


Related terms[edit]


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heir (third-person singular simple present heirs, present participle heiring, simple past and past participle heired)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To inherit.
    • Quoted in 1950, Our Garst family in America (page 27)
      [] Leonard Houtz & John Myer to be executors to this my last will & testament & lastly my children shall heir equally, one as much as the other.

See also[edit]





heir n (plural heiren, diminutive heirtje n)

  1. (archaic) Alternative spelling of heer (army)

Derived terms[edit]

Middle English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]



  1. Alternative form of hire

Etymology 2[edit]



  1. Alternative form of here (their)