Definition of heir in English:



  • 1A person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person's death.

    ‘his eldest son and heir’
    ‘the heir to the throne’
    • ‘Upon the death of his father Frederick in 1751, George succeeded as prince of Wales and heir to the throne.’
    • ‘The seeming acceptance by the Royal Family of the heir to the throne's new wife has also been of major importance.’
    • ‘Factions formed around the heir to the throne and other members of the royal family as well as in the entourage of ministers.’
    • ‘Mary went to live at the French court and at the age of fifteen married Francis, heir to the French throne.’
    • ‘She has been the princess, the heir, the future queen, before and she knows what it is like.’
    • ‘He was looking for a bride, and for someone who could provide a future heir to the throne.’
    • ‘I was their prince, their heir to the throne, and all they had heard of me was from rumours.’
    • ‘I think it is instead to protect their property and the property of their heirs.’
    • ‘Her health and good looks may have secured her marriage to the heir to the Danish throne, but they would not secure her happiness.’
    • ‘But civil disobedience is a different prospect for the heir to the throne than for others.’
    • ‘The savings plans are supposed to be tax-free, yet your heirs will still face death duties.’
    • ‘Prince William is playing the part of the young heir to the throne to a tee.’
    • ‘Naturally he would be expected to go, as he was not only a prince and a strong fighter, but the heir to the throne as well.’
    • ‘What everybody forgot was that, with no Empress or heirs to the throne, there was a distinct power void.’
    • ‘It is increasingly common for the rich to understate the value of gifts in order to avoid paying taxes on property passed on to heirs.’
    • ‘In fact, his son and heir Prince William has been here only once, as a baby.’
    • ‘Should the Tudor line die out, there would be a Stewart heir to the English throne.’
    • ‘I mourn for the loss of my beloved wife, but I rejoice over the birth of my son and heir to my throne.’
    • ‘These responsibilities of the heir under customary law had indeed been enforced by courts.’
    • ‘There the court held that the imposition of ‘fines’ on the heirs of a deceased was criminal in nature.’
    successor, next in line, inheritor, heir apparent, heir presumptive, heir-at-law, descendant, beneficiary, legatee, scion
    devisee, grantee, parcener, coparcener
    successor, heiress, next in line, inheritor, heir apparent, heir presumptive, heir-at-law, descendant, beneficiary, legatee, scion
    devisee, grantee, parcener, coparcener
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A person who inherits and continues the work of a predecessor.
      ‘they saw themselves as heirs of the Cubists’
      • ‘Kemp may labor under the illusion that he is the one true heir of Reagan Republicanism.’
      • ‘In that, he is the true heir to Yves Saint Laurent, who could conjure up surrealism without looking a fool.’
      • ‘He said that here at last were the true heirs of his 1970 Brazil team.’
      • ‘It is the true heir to the liberal and conservative traditions of New Zealand politics.’
      • ‘The Nationalists were only too happy in the past to declare themselves as the true heirs of the movement.’
      • ‘If they were pioneering dabblers in Freudian analysis, Carrie and her colleagues could be their true heirs.’
      • ‘We are heirs to the true legacy of humanism, and we must never forget this.’
      • ‘That has been the argument of the Bolsheviks, and their heirs, who abolished history, who continue to abort reform.’


  • an heir and a spare

    • humorous Two children (typically in reference to members of the monarchy or nobility, said to need two children, one to succeed to a title and the other to guarantee the family line should anything happen to the first)

      ‘the future King wants to follow in his parents' footsteps by producing the minimum royal issue of an heir and a spare’
      • ‘He had the requisite heir and a spare but unfortunately all three had died in a boating accident.’
      • ‘She was purely there to produce an heir and a spare.’
      • ‘Her job, just like others before her, is to produce an heir and a spare.’
      • ‘She did have two kids with Charles - an heir and a spare.’
      • ‘The latest edition to the heir and a spare Royal rank, the baby will replace Prince Harry as fourth in line to the throne.’
      • ‘Although about half have provided an heir and a spare to inherit their fortunes, almost half have not even seen the inside of a maternity ward.’
      • ‘In those days of high infant mortality, it was not enough to have one son, or even an 'heir and a spare' as the British say.’


Middle English: via Old French from Latin heres.