When you forbear, you hold yourself back from doing something. If you’re mad at your best friend, you might forbear to return her text messages for a while.

If you forbear to giggle during your teacher’s stern lecture, that’s a good thing. You keep yourself from laughing out loud, even though that’s instinctively what you want to do. The Old English root, forberan, means “control one’s feelings, or tolerate.” A less common way to use forbear is as a noun meaning “ancestor.” So if you’re refraining from reading about your ancestors, you can say you forbear to learn about your forbears.

Definitions of forbear
  1. verb

    refrain from doing

    forbore a snicker”
    hold back
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    type of:


    resist doing something

  2. verb

    resist doing something

    “she could not
    forbear weeping”
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    act, move

    perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)

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    leave, leave alone, leave behind

    leave unchanged or undisturbed or refrain from taking
    let it go

    not act

    refrain from voting
    save, spare

    refrain from harming
    hold back

    refrain from doing
    help, help oneself

    abstain from doing; always used with a negative
    stand by

    not act or do anything
    sit out

    not participate in (an activity, such as a dance or a sports event)

    leave unchanged
    favor, favour

    treat gently or carefully

  3. noun

    a person from whom you are descended

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    a parent of your father or mother
    great grandparent

    a parent of your grandparent
    gramps, grandad, granddad, granddaddy, grandfather, grandpa

    the father of your father or mother
    gran, grandma, grandmother, grannie, granny, nan, nanna

    the mother of your father or mother
    great grandmother

    a mother of your grandparent
    great grandfather

    a father of your grandparent
    type of:

    ancestor, antecedent, ascendant, ascendent, root

    someone from whom you are descended (but usually more remote than a grandparent)

Word Family