There are 2 main definitions of forbear in English:

Share this entry

forbear 1

Pronunciation: /fərˈber/

verb (past forbore; past participle forborne)

[no object] literary or formal
1Politely or patiently restrain an impulse to do something; refrain: the boy forbore from touching anything [with infinitive]: he modestly forbears to include his own work
More example sentences
  • Sidroc's anger now was only a small part of what he bore for Toki, and the reasons he forbore from killing him must be equally deep and old.
  • I have forborne from commenting on the latest media circus about Australia's Governor General because of its sheer absurdity but I suppose I should devote a few words to it.
  • So, having fastened her window, she forbore to close the shutters, and, propped against the pillows, she lay looking out through the window's casement, entranced by the view, the peace and beauty of that rural summer night.
refrain from, abstain from, desist from, keep from, restrain oneself from, stop oneself from, hold back from, withhold from;
resist the temptation to (be);
eschew, avoid, decline to (be)
1.1 [with object] Refrain from doing or using (something): Rebecca could not forbear a smile
More example sentences
  • I know that for myself it makes no difference whether I do or forbear those actions which are reckoned excellent.
  • I cannot forbear observing the philosophical significance of the fact that Autobiography fails to include a photograph of LeWitt himself.
  • Still, I could not forbear asking one more question as he walked away.


Old English forberan (see for-, bear1). The original senses were 'endure, bear with', hence 'endure the absence of something, do without', also 'bear up against, control oneself', hence 'refrain from' (Middle English).

Words that rhyme with forbear

affair, affaire, air, Altair, Althusser, Anvers, Apollinaire, Astaire, aware, Ayer, Ayr, bare, bear, bêche-de-mer, beware, billionaire, Blair, blare, Bonaire, cafetière, care, chair, chargé d'affaires, chemin de fer, Cher, Clair, Claire, Clare, commissionaire, compare, concessionaire, cordon sanitaire, couvert, Daguerre, dare, debonair, declare, derrière, despair, doctrinaire, éclair, e'er, elsewhere, ensnare, ere, extraordinaire, Eyre, fair, fare, fayre, Finisterre, flair, flare, Folies-Bergère, forswear, foursquare, glair, glare, hair, hare, heir, Herr, impair, jardinière, Khmer, Kildare, La Bruyère, lair, laissez-faire, legionnaire, luminaire, mal de mer, mare, mayor, meunière, mid-air, millionaire, misère, Mon-Khmer, multimillionaire, ne'er, Niger, nom de guerre, outstare, outwear, pair, pare, parterre, pear, père, pied-à-terre, Pierre, plein-air, prayer, questionnaire, rare, ready-to-wear, rivière, Rosslare, Santander, savoir faire, scare, secretaire, share, snare, solitaire, Soufrière, spare, square, stair, stare, surface-to-air, swear, Tailleferre, tare, tear, their, there, they're, vin ordinaire, Voltaire, ware, wear, Weston-super-Mare, where, yeah forebear
Share this entry

There are 2 main definitions of forbear in English:

Share this entry

forbear 2


Variant spelling of forebear.
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.