"to abstain," Old English forberan "bear up against, control one's feelings, abstain from, refrain; tolerate, endure" (past tense forbær, past participle forboren), from for- + beran "to bear" (see bear (v.)). Related: Forbearer; forbearing; forbore. Of similar formation are Old High German ferberen, Gothic frabairan "to endure."
Entries linking to forbear
prefix usually meaning "away, opposite, completely," from Old English for-, indicating loss or destruction, but in other cases completion, and used as well with intensive or pejorative force, from Proto-Germanic *fur "before, in" (source also of Old Norse for-, Swedish för-, Dutch ver-, Old High German fir-, German ver-); from PIE *pr-, from root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, toward, near, against."
In verbs the prefix denotes (a) intensive or completive action or process, or (b) action that miscarries, turns out for the worse, results in failure, or produces adverse or opposite results. In many verbs the prefix exhibits both meanings, and the verbs frequently have secondary and figurative meanings or are synonymous with the simplex. [Middle English Compendium]
Probably originally in Germanic with a sense of "forward, forth," but it spun out complex sense developments in the historical languages. Disused as a word-forming element in Modern English. Ultimately from the same root as fore (adv.). From its use in participles it came to be an intensive prefix of adjectives in Middle English (for example Chaucer's forblak "exceedingly black"), but all these now seem to be obsolete.
Old English beran "to carry, bring; bring forth, give birth to, produce; to endure without resistance; to support, hold up, sustain; to wear" (class IV strong verb; past tense bær, past participle boren), from Proto-Germanic *beranan (source also of Old Saxon beran, Old Frisian bera "bear, give birth," Middle Dutch beren "carry a child," Old High German beran, German gebären, Old Norse bera "carry, bring, bear, endure; give birth," Gothic bairan "to carry, bear, give birth to"), from PIE root *bher- (1) "carry a burden, bring," also "give birth" (though only English and German strongly retain this sense, and Russian has beremennaya "pregnant").
The Old English past tense bær became Middle English bare; the alternative bore began to appear c. 1400, but bare remained the literary form till after 1600. Past-participle distinction of borne for "carried" and born for "given birth" is from late 18c.
Many senses are from the notion of "move onward by pressure." To bear down "proceed forcefully toward" (especially in nautical use) is from 1716. The verb is attested from c. 1300 as "possess as an attribute or characteristic." The meaning "sustain without sinking" is from 1520s; to bear (something) in mind is from 1530s; the meaning "tend, be directed" (in a certain way) is from c. 1600. To bear up is from 1650s as "be firm, have fortitude."
updated on December 17, 2014