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[fer-giv] /fərˈgɪv/
verb (used with object), forgave, forgiven, forgiving.
to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
to grant pardon to (a person).
to cease to feel resentment against:
to forgive one's enemies.
to cancel an indebtedness or liability of:
to forgive the interest owed on a loan.
verb (used without object), forgave, forgiven, forgiving.
to pardon an offense or an offender.
Origin of forgive
before 900; for- + give; replacing Middle English foryiven, Old English forgiefan
Related forms
forgivable, adjective
forgiver, noun
half-forgiven, adjective
preforgive, verb (used with object), preforgave, preforgiven, preforgiving.
unforgivable, adjective
unforgivableness, noun
unforgivably, adverb
unforgiven, adjective
Can be confused
commute, forgive, pardon (see synonym study at pardon)
1. See excuse. 3. absolve, acquit. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for unforgivable
  • The omission of explaining what the immune status of the recipients represents is unforgivable.
  • Now having pointed that fact out, if is unforgivable that a captain abandon ship.
  • She did something horrible and unforgivable, it's as simple as that.
  • What she found inexplicable and unforgivable was the excruciating delay.
  • Avoiding combat duty was and is an unforgivable sin for a professional soldier.
  • Nips and tucks that previous generations accepted without question had come to seem unforgivable.
  • Whether out of deception or negligence, this misstatement has always seemed particularly unforgivable.
  • In a land of plenty, it is unforgivable that any should go hungry.
  • She taught me that at some point failure in everyone's life was inevitable, but giving up was absolutely unforgivable.
  • While these figures may seem unforgivable, they are not necessarily surprising.
British Dictionary definitions for unforgivable


so bad as to be unable to be excused or pardoned


verb -gives, -giving, -gave, -given
to cease to blame or hold resentment against (someone or something)
to grant pardon for (a mistake, wrongdoing, etc)
(transitive) to free or pardon (someone) from penalty
(transitive) to free from the obligation of (a debt, payment, etc)
Derived Forms
forgivable, adjective
forgivably, adverb
forgiver, noun
Word Origin
Old English forgiefan; see for-, give
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 unforgivable

1540s, from un- (1) "not" + forgive + -able. In early use, especially with reference to the sin in Matt. xii:31. Related: Unforgivably.



Old English forgiefan "give, grant, allow; forgive," also "to give up" and "to give in marriage;" from for- "completely" + giefan "give" (see give).

The modern sense of "to give up desire or power to punish" is from use of the compound as a Germanic loan-translation of Latin perdonare (cf. Old Saxon fargeban, Dutch vergeven, German vergeben, Gothic fragiban; see pardon). Related: Forgave; forgiven; forgiving.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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