Printable Version
Pronunciation: for-ber Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: Tolerate, put up with, refrain from responding to a wrong we have a right to respond to, to abstain, voluntarily desist, restrain yourself.

Notes: Here is a completely English word (unborrowed) that is slowly slipping out of use. The noun is the lovely forbearance, and you may call someone who restrains him- or herself from reacting foolishly forbearant, or even a forbearer.

In Play: We forbear misdemeanors not everyone can forbear: "Gloria Sass forbore pulling the shade when she undressed to build her reputation among New Monia's male population." Help your children build vocabulary by saying things like, "I can forbear such misbehavior no longer; go to your room!"

Word History: Today's Good Word in Old English was forberan "bear up against, refrain; tolerate", made up of for- "away, opposite" + beran "to bear". The prefix comes from PIE per-/por- "forward, before, toward, against". This word developed further into Russian pered "before", Lithuanian per "through", English for and fore, and German vor "before" and ver-, an intensive prefix. The history of bear we have seen many times before. It comes ultimately from PIE bher-/bhor- "carry, take, bring". It has remained in PIE languages for millennia: Sanskrit bharati "carries, brings", Armenian berem "I carry", Greek pherein "to carry", Latin ferre "to carry". In modern Indo-European languages we find Russian brat' "to take" and bremya "burden", and English burden and birth from bear (a child).

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!