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[bih-reevd] /bɪˈrivd/
(of a person) greatly saddened at being deprived by death of a loved one.
a bereaved person or persons (usually preceded by the):
to extend condolences to the bereaved.
Origin of bereaved
late Old English
1100-50; Middle English bireved, late Old English birēafod (past participle); see bereave, -ed2
Related forms
unbereaved, adjective


[bih-reev] /bɪˈriv/
verb (used with object), bereaved or bereft, bereaving.
to deprive and make desolate, especially by death (usually followed by of):
Illness bereaved them of their mother.
to deprive ruthlessly or by force (usually followed by of):
The war bereaved them of their home.
Obsolete. to take away by violence.
before 900; Middle English bereven, Old English berēafian; cognate with Dutch berooven, German berauben, Gothic biraubōn. See be-, reave1
Related forms
bereavement, noun
bereaver, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for bereaved
  • We extend heartfelt sympathy to his bereaved family.
  • Contrary to this so called research, talking with other bereaved parents has been a true life saver.
  • Grown-ups say the darnedest things when trying to comfort the bereaved.
  • Heartfelt sympathy is extended to the bereaved family.
  • Possible victims now include bereaved service families, the previous prime minister and the next king.
  • Formal recognition of the time necessary for parents to heal would go a long way to reinforce bereaved working parents.
  • bereaved relatives of the hijackers' victims rallied behind its recommendations.
  • Although probably well meaning, they offer nothing to the bereaved.
  • That, of course, is no comfort to the families thus bereaved.
  • We extend heartfelt sympathy to her bereaved family.
British Dictionary definitions for bereaved


having been deprived of something or someone valued, esp through death


verb (transitive)
(usually foll by of) to deprive (of) something or someone valued, esp through death
(obsolete) to remove by force
See also bereft
Word Origin
Old English bereafian; see reave1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bereaved



Old English bereafian "to deprive of, take away, seize, rob," from be + reafian "rob, plunder," from Proto-Germanic *raubojanan, from PIE *reup- "to snatch" (see rapid). A common Germanic formation (cf. Old Frisian birava "despoil," Old Saxon biroban, Dutch berooven, Old High German biroubon, German berauben, Gothic biraubon). Since mid-17c., mostly in reference to life, hope, loved ones, and other immaterial possessions. Past tense forms bereaved and bereft have co-existed since 14c., now slightly differentiated in meaning, the former applied to loss of loved ones, the latter to circumstances.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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