Middle English from ca. 1300, from Old French forfait (“crime”), originally the past participle of forfaire (“to transgress”), and Medieval Latin foris factum. During the 15th century, the sense shifted from the crime to the penalty for the crime.
forfeit (plural forfeits)
- A penalty for or consequence of a misdemeanor.
- That he our deadly forfeit should release (John Milton, On the Morning of Christ's Nativity, 1629)
- A thing forfeited; that which is taken from somebody in requital of a misdeed committed; that which is lost, or the right to which is alienated, by a crime, breach of contract, etc.
- He who murders pays the forfeit of his own life.
- Thy slanders I forgive; and therewithal / Remit thy other forfeits.
- Something deposited and redeemable by a sportive fine as part of a game.
- Country dances and forfeits shortened the rest of the day.
- (obsolete, rare) Injury; wrong; mischief.
- Ld. Berners
- to seek arms upon people and country that never did us any forfeit
- Ld. Berners
- To suffer the loss of something by wrongdoing or non-compliance
- He forfeited his last chance of an early release from jail by repeatedly attacking another inmate.
- To lose a contest, game, match, or other form of competition by voluntary withdrawal, by failing to attend or participate, or by violation of the rules
- Because only nine players were present, the football team was forced to forfeit the game.
- To be guilty of a misdeed; to be criminal; to transgress.
- To fail to keep an obligation.
- I will have the heart of him if he forfeit.
- Very rarely, forfeit is used as the past tense form and past participle (i.e., the past tense forms and the present tense form are homographs).
forfeit (not comparable)
- Lost or alienated for an offense or crime; liable to penal seizure.
- thy wealth being forfeit to the state
- to tread the forfeit paradise