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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Bereave \Be*reave"\ (b[-e]*r[=e]v"), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Bereaved (b[-e]*r[=e]vd"), Bereft (b[-e]*r[e^]ft"); p. pr. & vb. n. Bereaving.] [OE. bireven, AS. bere['a]fian. See Be-, and Reave.]

  1. To make destitute; to deprive; to strip; -- with of before the person or thing taken away.

    Madam, you have bereft me of all words.

    Bereft of him who taught me how to sing.

  2. To take away from. [Obs.]

    All your interest in those territories Is utterly bereft you; all is lost.

  3. To take away. [Obs.]

    Shall move you to bereave my life.

    Note: The imp. and past pple. form bereaved is not used in reference to immaterial objects. We say bereaved or bereft by death of a relative, bereft of hope and strength.

    Syn: To dispossess; to divest.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

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 (compare 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.


vb. 1 (context transitive English) To deprive by or as if by violence; rob; strip. 2 (context transitive English) To take away by destroying, impairing, or spoiling; take away by violence. 3 (context transitive English) To deprive of power; prevent. 4 (context transitive English) To take away someone or something important or close; deprive. 5 (context intransitive rare English) To destroy life; cut off.


v. deprive through death

Usage examples of "bereave".

The troops of ladies were off to bereave themselves of their fashionable imitation old lace adornment, which denounced them in some sort abettors and associates of the sanguinary loathed wretch, Mrs.

By the Day-star of the World, my bereaved and longing heart is afire with a grief that is beyond my description.

Yet, during all this time and under all conditions these bereaved and oppressed ones, with faces set towards His luminous Threshold, held fast to the cord of patience and resignation, engaged themselves in offering fervent prayers and supplications and committed all their affairs to the care of the Blessed Beauty.

And although in a joyless world, the love and unity of the friends in Yonkers imparted the utmost joy to this bereaved family.

As often as the tale was embellished with new incidents or enforced by new testimony, the hearer grew pale, his breath was stifled by inquietudes, his blood was chilled, and his stomach was bereaved of its usual energies.

His bereaved congregation immediately began pulling candidates on and off, like new boots, on trial.

Through these trances of mine I have been privileged to put many bereaved ones in communication with their dear departed spirits.

I, the daughter of the man who had done so much to put these poor lonely spirits into the Beyond, should be made their sole channel of reunion with their bereaved and sorrowing adorers?

Quimbleton, poor bereaved fellow, would sit by me in the dusk and revel with the spirit of his dear comrade.

Someone who would give them a false name, raise the kid, and run with their money, and leave the bereaved parents to clean up the mess and explain things to the police.

I should have, I was still trying to be nice to the poor bereaved crazy woman.

They never released names of the downed officers to the media until all the families had been contacted, better for the bereaved, but hell on all the other families with police officers out and about tonight.

The French spread victorious across the land, and these Riflemen were bereft and frightened.

There had been a time when the company of such men had been his life and pleasure, but now, because he was an officer, he was bereft of such companionship.

In the empty space where it had been, the lit He calico cat sat alone, looking bereft and forsaken.