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for·bear 1 (fôr-bâr)
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v. for·bore (-bôr), for·borne (-bôrn), for·bear·ing, for·bears
v.intr.
1. To keep oneself from doing something; hold back; refrain: forbear from making a comment.
2. To be tolerant or patient in the face of provocation.
v.tr.
1. To refrain from; resist: forbore criticizing them.
2. To restrain oneself so as not (to do something): "He saw that she was preoccupied, and forbore to question her" (Thomas Hardy).

[Middle English forberen, from Old English forberan, to endure; see bher-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

for·bearer n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
for·bear 2 (fôrbâr)
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n.
Variant of forebear.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
fore·bear also for·bear (fôrbâr)
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n.
A person from whom one is descended; an ancestor. See Synonyms at ancestor.

[Late Middle English (Scottish) forbear : Middle English fore-, fore- + beer, one who is (from ben, to be; see BE + -er, -er; see -ER1).]

Usage Note: Etymologically, a forebear is a "a fore-be-er," a person who has existed in earlier times. But because the -bear part of this word is pronounced to rhyme with the verb bear, people apparently conceive of the word's meaning as "a person who has given birth in earlier times," or "a person who has borne burdens in earlier times," as if it was a compound of the prefix fore- and the verb bear. The existence of the verb forbear has probably reinforced this notion, even though that verb means "to restrain oneself from doing something" and has lost its original meaning of "to endure." At any rate, the noun forebearer is sometimes found in place of forebear even in edited prose in sentences like His forebearers had crossed the Appalachians shortly after the American Revolution. The Usage Panel rejects this usage strongly but not overwhelmingly. In fact, 36 percent accepted this sentence in our 2008 survey, suggesting that forebearer may soon be a word whose time has come.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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