Definition of forebear in English:


(also forbear)


  • An ancestor.

    • ‘We must erect a national monument to our forebears who lived and died in U.S. slavery.’
    • ‘Many of his forebears had colonial ties and his father spent his career in India.’
    • ‘Gilbert and George were the forebears of an artistic generation that holds everything to be ironic.’
    • ‘It does not really take very much time over a family lunch to begin to enquire about one's forebears.’
    • ‘But their forebears were, generations ago, driven from this area by European settlers.’
    • ‘They lived among a large majority of black people, whose forebears they had exploited and abused.’
    • ‘These tales are filled with the blood and tears of my forebears.’
    • ‘Your personality, life course and career will have no necessary relation to that of your forebear.’
    • ‘Present generations need to know about their forebears, he said.’
    • ‘As a child, I heard the stories from my father about our notable forebear, an honest man who was saved from a massacre, the sole survivor.’
    • ‘No longer do young people absorb information about their forebears from grandparents.’
    • ‘I'm sorry, your forebears must have lived in a parallel universe to mine. Is this the Victorian age of the Little Match Girl?’
    • ‘My forebear was, according to the family account, very depressed when his teeth started falling out when he was in late middle age.’
    • ‘But a congregation of Christian believers are not able to use it and love it as the holy space that it was for generations of their forebears.’
    • ‘What the Council might have said more explicitly is that their forebears are also our forebears.’
    • ‘A small estate winery, located west of St. Catharines on 80 acres of land first deeded to family forebear in 1794.’
    • ‘We think our readers will be surprised and encouraged to discover that the forebear of fundamentalism was a true Baptist guided by historic convictions.’
    • ‘In this, they are deploying a weapon their forebears did not have.’
    • ‘I know by my family history that a forebear of mine turned on the gods of Mother India and professed faith to the One True God.’
    • ‘One cannot hope to rise or succeed in the world unless one's forebears had the requisite abilities.’
    ancestor, forefather, predecessor, progenitor, father, grandfather, parent, grandparent
    antecedent, forerunner, precursor
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Late 15th century: from fore + bear, variant of obsolete beer someone who exists (from be + -er).