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 berove (to deprive), Swedish beröva (to rob), Gothic 𐌱𐌹𐍂𐌰𐌿𐌱𐍉𐌽 (biraubōn).


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /bɪˈɹiːv/
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  • Rhymes: -iːv


bereave (third-person singular simple present bereaves, present participle bereaving, simple past and past participle bereaved or bereft)

  1. (transitive) To deprive by or as if by violence; to rob; to strip; to benim.
    • 1596-97, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act III Scene 2
      Madam, you have bereft me of all words,
    • (Can we date this quote by Tickell and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      bereft of him who taught me how to sing
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To take away by destroying, impairing, or spoiling; take away by violence.
  3. (transitive) To deprive of power; prevent.
  4. (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.
  5. (intransitive, rare) To destroy life; cut off.

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