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[fawr-fit] /ˈfɔr fɪt/
a fine; penalty.
an act of forfeiting; forfeiture.
something to which the right is lost, as for commission of a crime or misdeed, neglect of duty, or violation of a contract.
an article deposited in a game because of a mistake and redeemable by a fine or penalty.
forfeits, (used with a singular verb) a game in which such articles are taken from the players.
verb (used with object)
to subject to seizure as a forfeit.
to lose or become liable to lose, as in consequence of crime, fault, or breach of engagement.
lost or subject to loss by forfeiture.
Origin of forfeit
1250-1300; Middle English forfet < Old French (past participle of forfaire to commit crime, to lose possession or right through a criminal act) < Medieval Latin forīs factum penalty, past participle of forīs facere to transgress, equivalent to Latin forīs outside, wrongly + facere to make, do
Related forms
forfeitable, adjective
forfeiter, noun
nonforfeitable, adjective
nonforfeiting, adjective
reforfeit, verb (used with object)
unforfeitable, adjective
unforfeited, adjective
unforfeiting, adjective
7. surrender, yield, relinquish, forgo, waive. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for forfeit
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If Jemima goes at her month, as she threatens, will she not forfeit her wages?

    Mollie's Prince Rosa Nouchette Carey
  • Looking at it in the worst light, he has been guilty of nothing to forfeit his right.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • "Your life is forfeit, Buck Weaver," Sanderson said, without delay.

    Mavericks William MacLeod Raine
  • To lose Macedonia, therefore, is to forfeit the life-secret of nation.

    England and Germany Emile Joseph Dillon
  • The evil-doers were destroyed, their houses burnt, and their cattle swept off as forfeit to the King.

    The Induna's Wife Bertram Mitford
British Dictionary definitions for forfeit


something lost or given up as a penalty for a fault, mistake, etc
the act of losing or surrendering something in this manner
(law) something confiscated as a penalty for an offence, breach of contract, etc
(sometimes pl)
  1. a game in which a player has to give up an object, perform a specified action, etc, if he commits a fault
  2. an object so given up
(transitive) to lose or be liable to lose in consequence of a mistake, fault, etc
(transitive) (law)
  1. to confiscate as punishment
  2. to surrender (something exacted as a penalty)
surrendered or liable to be surrendered as a penalty
Derived Forms
forfeitable, adjective
forfeiter, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French forfet offence, from forfaire to commit a crime, from Medieval Latin foris facere to act outside (what is lawful), from Latin foris outside + facere to do
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 forfeit

c.1300, "misdeed," from Old French forfait "crime, punishable offense" (12c.), originally past participle of forfaire "transgress," from for- "outside, beyond" (from Latin foris; see foreign) + faire "to do" (from Latin facere; see factitious). Translating Medieval Latin foris factum. Sense shifted mid-15c. from the crime to the penalty: "something to which the right is lost through a misdeed." As an adjective from late 14c., from Old French forfait.


c.1300, "to lose by misconduct;" see forfeit (n.). Related: Forfeited; forfeiting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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