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[air] /ɛər/
a person who inherits or has a right of inheritance in the property of another following the latter's death.
  1. (in common law) a person who inherits all the property of a deceased person, as by descent, relationship, will, or legal process.
  2. Civil Law. a person who legally succeeds to the place of a deceased person and assumes the rights and obligations of the deceased, as the liabilities for debts or the possessory rights to property.
a person who inherits or is entitled to inherit the rank, title, position, etc., of another.
a person or group considered as inheriting the tradition, talent, etc., of a predecessor.
verb (used with object)
Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. to inherit; succeed to.
1225-75; Middle English eir, heir < Old French < Latin hērēd- (stem of hērēs); akin to Greek chêros bereaved
Related forms
heirless, adjective
Can be confused
air, e'er, ere, err, heir. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for heirs
  • Boys were considered more valuable-as heirs or for support in old age.
  • There could also be a search to find heirs of the original owner.
  • They are the heirs to fascists, communists and other extremists, who failed.
  • Although the tract had once been part of a large multi-generational family farm, the heirs had dispersed around the country.
  • What an interest only mortgage would do in this situation is transfer risk to the heirs.
  • The longer you work, the more there is to live on or leave to your heirs later.
  • If the individual is deceased, their heirs can claim the funds.
  • The employment of a stonemason is explained by the conditions under which the mystery is revealed to successive heirs and factors.
  • They soon began to build castles and to transmit their powers, together with their lands, to their heirs.
  • Published posthumously without the consent of the author's heirs and executors.
British Dictionary definitions for heirs


(civil law) the person legally succeeding to all property of a deceased person, irrespective of whether such person died testate or intestate, and upon whom devolves as well as the rights the duties and liabilities attached to the estate
any person or thing that carries on some tradition, circumstance, etc, from a forerunner
an archaic word for offspring
Derived Forms
heirless, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French, from Latin hērēs; related to Greek khēros bereaved
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 heirs



c.1300, from Anglo-French heir, Old French oir "heir, successor," from Latin heredem (nominative heres) "heir, heiress" (see heredity). Heir apparent (late 14c.) has the French order of noun-adjective, though it was not originally so written in English. It is the heir of one still alive whose right is clear. After death the heir apparent becomes the heir-at-law.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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heirs in the Bible

Under the patriarchs the property of a father was divided among the sons of his legitimate wives (Gen. 21:10; 24:36; 25:5), the eldest son getting a larger portion than the rest. The Mosaic law made specific regulations regarding the transmission of real property, which are given in detail in Deut. 21:17; Num. 27:8; 36:6; 27:9-11. Succession to property was a matter of right and not of favour. Christ is the "heir of all things" (Heb. 1:2; Col. 1:15). Believers are heirs of the "promise," "of righteousness," "of the kingdom," "of the world," "of God," "joint heirs" with Christ (Gal 3:29; Heb. 6:17; 11:7; James 2:5; Rom. 4:13; 8:17).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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