Definition of forgive in English:



  • 1Stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.

    ‘I don't think I'll ever forgive David for the way he treated her’
    • ‘At first, Julie had turned her back on him, too angry to forgive him but slowly he had acquired her trust, her love.’
    • ‘In any case, such is the pace and brilliance of the narrative that one feels that one can forgive the author almost anything.’
    • ‘Fans will forgive players anything as long as they wear their team's shirt with pride.’
    • ‘But he had never truly been in love before, either, so we will forgive him his mistakes as well.’
    • ‘You could forgive her for anything because of her passion for journalism.’
    • ‘The woman's nose finally stopped hurting when she truly forgave her father.’
    • ‘She desperately wanted to forgive him and stop him from going, but her pride got in the way.’
    • ‘Arlene always said I could forgive anyone for anything if they intrigued me enough.’
    • ‘So yes, I will take you back, and I will forgive you for your mistake, and I have missed you so much.’
    • ‘Still, he's my only brother, and I tend to forgive him anything.’
    • ‘George forgave me for my mistake at the time, so there was no ill will.’
    • ‘Love was not supposed to run this deep or feel this right, as though he could do anything and she would forgive him.’
    • ‘He will have to forgive you and stop being a parole officer, or you'll have to call it a day.’
    • ‘She had abandoned him, he thought, because she could not live in a world that would not forgive her for her mistakes.’
    • ‘He wanted a girlfriend who loved him so much that she would easily forgive him for anything.’
    • ‘He asked Russians to forgive him for his mistakes and failing to realize their dreams after the fall of the Soviet Union.’
    • ‘Readers will forgive you anything except your uncomplicated success.’
    • ‘Then we will never beat a child, but forgive him for his mistakes.’
    • ‘I try to forgive myself first of all, and then I ask the other person with whom I'm angry to forgive me as well.’
    • ‘He wasn't sure if she'd forgive him for his angry words very quickly, but she'd get over it and this would help.’
    pardon, excuse, exonerate, absolve, acquit, let off, grant an amnesty to, amnesty
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    1. 1.1usually be forgiven Stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for (an offense, flaw, or mistake)
      no object ‘he was not a man who found it easy to forgive and forget’
      ‘they are not going to pat my head and say all is forgiven’
      • ‘Because he will forgive their iniquity and remember their sins no more.’
      • ‘His last wish was for you to know all is forgiven, come home.’
      • ‘Just as he forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health, so he continues his work of healing and salvation today through the sacrament.’
      • ‘According to the Talmud the ribbon stopped turning white in the year 30 A.D. So this showed God was no longer forgiving the sins of Israel by means of the scapegoat.’
      • ‘Even if the mistakes are forgiven, can one forgive the repetition of the same mistakes over and over again?’
      • ‘The cross in Mark does not function as the means through which Jesus forgives sins.’
      • ‘We are able to acknowledge horrendous scenarios, justify our errors, and forgive our mistakes by making a situation light-hearted.’
      • ‘At the end of the American Civil War, for example, President Lincoln forgave many crimes that might legitimately have been prosecuted.’
      • ‘I've learned that God has been showing me to forgive myself, because it's in the Bible that God - in the Old Testament and in the New - that God forgives sins for those who come to him through faith in Christ.’
      • ‘Christ has brought believers from darkness into a kingdom of light and forgiven their sins absolutely and without question.’
      • ‘However, when you get rid of Christianity, you don't get rid of the conviction of sin and judgment, you merely get rid of any hope of forgiving the sin or tempering the judgment.’
      • ‘The roots of the idea, however, lie not in forgiving the sin committed by human beings, but in protecting them from evil done to them.’
      • ‘He told people to be honest whatever the cost, promised them eternal life without sorrow or pain and said he could forgive sin.’
      • ‘The revelation of this book is from Allah, exalted in power, full of knowledge, who forgives sin, accepts repentance, is strict in punishment, and has a long reach in all things.’
      • ‘The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’’
      • ‘I think God will more readily forgive our sins against him, whom we cannot see, than against our fellow humans, whom we do see.’
      • ‘At the same time, as we confess our sins, let us forgive the faults committed by others toward us.’
      • ‘The grace of God is not simply a holy hypodermic whereby my sins are forgiven.’
      • ‘Certainly the American electorate has forgiven the sins of those who tried to avoid the war.’
      • ‘He could not do it because no man rightly can forgive the sins he has committed against others.’
    2. 1.2 Cancel (a debt)
      ‘he proposed that their debts should be forgiven’
      • ‘Whatever debt is forgiven will be reimbursed in some form so that the solvency of the institutions is not threatened.’
      • ‘In a few cases, a substantial discount was given or debt was forgiven outright.’
      • ‘We actually have to be giving aid, forgiving debt and rigorously addressing corruption, not just saying oh well you just get yourselves into order and we aren't morally obliged to help until you do.’
      • ‘Would it make a difference if our national debt were suddenly forgiven in full?’
      • ‘As a general rule, this money doesn't help the poor, and forgiving the debt is not a gesture of kindness to the neediest people in the world.’
      • ‘The president seems to think that this is an opportunity now to forgive that debt and to wipe it clean and move on.’
      • ‘Besides having faulty laws and courts, governments block debt workouts by forgiving debts of companies deemed too big or prestigious to fail.’
      • ‘I can either shut you down or I can forgive some debts, and even give you some operating money.’
      • ‘The Government is forgiving debt in one instance.’
      • ‘He also apparently owed his pusher quite a bit of money, so the prospect of living and the debt being forgiven in exchange for planting the device had been too much for him.’
      • ‘If all we do is say, we will only loan you the money, then we can never argue to those countries that they've got to forgive those debts.’
      • ‘Several major publishers donated books, and forgave debts or extended credit.’
      • ‘Even after we succeed in forgiving the debts of a country, they will get right back into debt if we don't change trading relationships.’
      • ‘We can forgive the debts of Third World dictatorships, but these guys will run it up again and pocket the dough.’
      • ‘They would rather inflame the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo than forgive African debt.’
      • ‘Such is the divine compassion: it heals and feeds, forgives huge debts, nurses hurt bodies back to health and welcomes home sinners, restoring them to a place of honor.’
      • ‘A number of other countries have already forgiven their debts to you, be they government to government or otherwise.’
      • ‘Unless some of this debt is forgiven, they will be paying in perpetuity.’
      • ‘Less than two weeks ago, the G8 agreed to forgive the debts of 18 poor nations.’
      • ‘Not answering your phone does not make creditors forgive the debt.’
    3. 1.3 Used in polite expressions as a request to excuse or regard indulgently one's foibles, ignorance, or impoliteness.
      ‘you will have to forgive my suspicious mind’
      • ‘Now, forgive my ignorance, but just who is this director, Franco Zeffirelli?’
      • ‘Sanctuary, forgive the expressions, but where on earth are you and what the hell have you done?’
      • ‘Lying about one's age is, forgive the expression, an age-old practice if one is a woman.’
      • ‘Please forgive my ignorance and realize that the events and happenings are totally fictional.’
      • ‘So far as legal aid is concerned, would your Lordship forgive my ignorance, I still have to ask for detail, an order for detailed assessment.’
      • ‘At 67 minutes, It may seem a little long, but there's such a surfeit of grooviness you can forgive the odd indulgence.’
      • ‘Also, forgive my ignorance here, but has anyone taken prisoner and sent to Cuba been charged yet?’
      • ‘This may be a stupid question, but please forgive my ignorance.’
      • ‘Now you better be as - forgive the expression - angels until the year closes out.’
      • ‘I haven't proof read it or anything, so forgive me if there are grammatical errors and stuff.’
      • ‘This is my first camera with a decent macro, so please forgive my temporary indulgence with this feature.’
      • ‘Now, most of my travel had been underground on the Tube so you will have to forgive my ignorance; I was yet to cross a bridge in London.’
      excuse, overlook, disregard, ignore, pass over, make allowances for, allow
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  • one could (or may) be forgiven

    • It would be understandable (if one mistakenly did a particular thing)

      ‘the arrangements are so complex that you could be forgiven for feeling confused’
      • ‘For many, however, the prospect of even trying pink nail varnish on your fingers is a step too far and, by now, you may be forgiven for feeling the only pink that will do is a pink gin.’
      • ‘Having closed last week's column with reference to a man of the cloth, you may be forgiven for starting to wonder if I've recently found God.’
      • ‘Peering through the gloom out of the car window, you could be forgiven for thinking you are the butt of some airline employee's warped sense of humour.’
      • ‘From the outside, with the sounds of laughing children and chooks and the overgrown fence line, you could be forgiven for mistaking Cubbies for some sort of hippy commune.’
      • ‘Given the large crowd which will pack the Fife circuit, and the million-plus viewers who will tune in to watch on terrestrial television, you could be forgiven for thinking there can't be much wrong with motorsport as popular as this.’
      • ‘Indeed, you could be forgiven for thinking that corruption lies at the heart of everything we touch, marred as the past days have been with scandals and sackings, although retribution in the financial arena was sadly lacking.’
      • ‘Reading recent coverage of events in north Belfast, you could be forgiven for thinking there was something dodgy in the water turning Belfast residents into sectarian monsters.’
      • ‘For a city that seldom sees snow and is, of course, pancake flat you may be forgiven for thinking that I have quite simply gone mad.’
      • ‘The Great Yorkshire Show, of course, takes great pride in the livestock on display, although with names like British Belgian Blue and Lincoln Red you could be forgiven for mistaking the names of cattle for cheeses.’
      • ‘Choose a Friday or a Saturday and you may be forgiven for thinking it's now legal to park on double yellow lines after 5pm.’


Old English forgiefan, of Germanic origin, related to Dutch vergeven and German vergeben, and ultimately to for- and give.