Definition of forgive in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /fəˈɡɪv/

verb (past forgave; past participle forgiven)

[with object]
1Stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake: I’ll never forgive David for the way he treated her
More example sentences
  • She desperately wanted to forgive him and stop him from going, but her pride got in the way.
  • He will have to forgive you and stop being a parole officer, or you'll have to call it a day.
  • Still, he's my only brother, and I tend to forgive him anything.
pardon, excuse, exonerate, absolve, acquit, let off, grant an amnesty to, amnesty;
make allowances for, stop feeling resentful towards, feel no resentment towards, stop feeling malice towards, feel no malice towards, harbour no grudge against, bury the hatchet with;
let bygones be bygones
informal let someone off the hook, go easy on
rare exculpate
1.1No longer feel angry about or wish to punish (an offence, flaw, or mistake): I was willing to forgive all her faults for the sake of our friendship [no object]: he had never found it easy to forgive and forget
More example sentences
  • At the same time, as we confess our sins, let us forgive the faults committed by others toward us.
  • Even if the mistakes are forgiven, can one forgive the repetition of the same mistakes over and over again?
  • Because he will forgive their iniquity and remember their sins no more.
1.2Cancel (a debt): he proposed that their debts should be forgiven
More example sentences
  • A number of other countries have already forgiven their debts to you, be they government to government or otherwise.
  • 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.
  • The president seems to think that this is an opportunity now to forgive that debt and to wipe it clean and move on.
1.3Used in polite expressions as a request to excuse one’s foibles, ignorance, or impoliteness: you will have to forgive my suspicious mind
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
excuse, overlook, disregard, ignore, pass over, make allowances for, allow;
condone, let go, let pass, sanction, turn a blind eye to, turn a deaf ear to, wink at, connive at, blink at, indulge, tolerate
rare extenuate


one could (or may) be forgiven for doing something

It would be understandable if one mistakenly did a particular thing: with the plaster palm trees, you could be forgiven for thinking you were on Hollywood Boulevard
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.



Example sentences
  • He writes that ‘the ideal end-result of forgiveness is the restoration of the original relationship between the offender and the forgiver.’
  • High forgivers seemed more empathetic and warm, expressing more positive emotions towards others - including those who hurt them.
  • ‘All my life I've been taught to forgive’ Jamie pauses ‘that forgiveness is in the forgiver, but I cant.’


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

Words that rhyme with forgive

give, live, misgive, outlive, shiv, sieve, spiv, Viv

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: for|give

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.