forbear, forebear
1. Forbear is a verb (pronounced with the stress on the second syllable) meaning ‘to abstain from, go without’ and is usually followed by to + infinitive or from + verb in -ing:

• He did not enquire after their progress and Nutty forbore to mention it —K. M. Peyton, 1988

• Naturally he couldn't forbear from upsetting me —Will Self, 1993.

Its past form is forbore and its past participle is forborn.
2. Forebear is a noun (pronounced with the stress on the first syllable) meaning ‘an ancestor’:

• Henry Carew had chosen the Church as some of his forebears had done —T. Hayden, 1991

• An early forebear went to Chicago and made a fortune in the grain business —Daily Mail, 2007.

Forebear is also used figuratively:

• Writing with what at times seems near-compulsive erudition, he details the philosophical and political forebears and descendants of just about every significant thinker whose work has any relevance to science or policy —Times Higher Education Supplement, 2000.

The situation is complicated somewhat by the fact that most dictionaries allow forbear as a variant of forebear, but the advice here is to maintain the distinction.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Forebear — Fore*bear , n. An ancestor. See {Forbear}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • forebear — index ancestor, ascendant, forerunner, parents, primogenitor, progenitor Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • forebear — see FORBEAR (Cf. forbear). Related: Forebearance; forebears …   Etymology dictionary

  • forebear — forefather, progenitor, *ancestor …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • forebear — (also forbear) ► NOUN ▪ an ancestor. ORIGIN from FORE(Cf. ↑fore) + bear, variant of obsolete beer «someone who exists» …   English terms dictionary

  • forebear — [fôr′ber΄] n. [< FORE + BE + ER] an ancestor …   English World dictionary

  • forebear — UK [ˈfɔː(r)beə(r)] / US [ˈfɔrˌber] noun [countable, usually plural] Word forms forebear : singular forebear plural forebears formal your forebears are the people in your family who lived a long time ago …   English dictionary

  • forebear — Forbear For*bear (f[o^]r*b[^a]r ), n. [See {Fore}, and {Bear} to produce.] An ancestor; a forefather; usually in the plural. [Scot.] [Also spelled {forebear}.] Your forbears of old. Sir W. Scott. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • forebear — See forbear. See forbear, forebear …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • forebear — also forbear noun Etymology: Middle English (Scots), from fore + bear (from been to be) Date: 15th century ancestor, forefather; also precursor usually used in plural …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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