From Middle English bireven, from Old English berēafian (“to bereave, deprive of, take away, seize, rob, despoil”), from Proto-Germanic *biraubōną, and Old English berēofan (“to bereave, deprive, rob of”); both equivalent to be- + reave. Cognate with Dutch beroven (“to rob, deprive, bereave”), German berauben (“to deprive, rob, bereave”), Danish berøve (“to deprive of”), Norwegian berøve (“to deprive”), Swedish beröva (“to rob”), Gothic 𐌱𐌹𐍂𐌰𐌿𐌱𐍉𐌽 (biraubōn).
- (transitive) To deprive by or as if by violence; to rob; to strip; to benim.
- 1719, Thomas Tickell, On the Death of Mr. Addison
- bereft of him who taught me how to sing
- (transitive, obsolete) To take away by destroying, impairing, or spoiling; take away by violence.
- 1591 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Second Part of Henry the Sixt, […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene i]:
- All your interest in those territories / Is utterly bereft you; all is lost.
- c. 1589–1590, Christopher Marlo[we], Tho[mas] Heywood, editor, The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Ievv of Malta. […], London: […] I[ohn] B[eale] for Nicholas Vavasour, […], published 1633, OCLC 1121318438, (please specify the act number in uppercase Roman numerals):
- […] shall move you to bereave my life.
- (transitive) To deprive of power; prevent.
- (transitive) To take away someone or something that is important or close; deprive.
- Death bereaved him of his wife.
- The castaways were bereft of hope.
- (intransitive, rare) To destroy life; cut off.