Definition of forgive in English:

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Pronunciation: /fərˈɡiv/

verb (past forgave; past participle forgiven)

[with object]
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
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;
make allowances for, feel no resentment toward, feel no malice toward, harbor no grudge against, bury the hatchet with;
let bygones be bygones
informal let off (the hook)
formal exculpate
1.1 (usually be forgiven) Stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for (an offense, flaw, or mistake): they are not going to pat my head and say all is forgiven [no object]: he was not a man who 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 or regard indulgently 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;
turn a blind eye to, turn a deaf ear to, wink at, indulge, tolerate


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
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

Syllabification: for·give

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