from mis- +‎ give[1], from Middle English give (suggest, given). Compare given and what gives


misgive (third-person singular simple present misgives, present participle misgiving, simple past misgave, past participle misgiven)

  1. (transitive, archaic) (of the mind, heart, etc.) To give fear or doubt to; to make irresolute.
    • c. 1590, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3, Act IV, Scene 6,[1]
      As Henry’s late presaging prophecy
      Did glad my heart with hope of this young Richmond,
      So doth my heart misgive me, in these conflicts
      What may befall him, to his harm and ours:
    • 1650, John Milton, Eikonoklastes, Section IV, p. 32,[2]
      Surely those unarmed and Petitioning People needed not have bin so formidable to any, but to such whose consciences misgave them how ill they had deserv’d of the People;
    • 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, London: Longmans, Green & Co., Chapter , p. 28,[3]
      ‘Poor Harry Jekyll,’ he thought, ‘my mind misgives me he is in deep waters! []
  2. (transitive, archaic) To suspect; to dread.
    • 1567, Arthur Golding (translator), The XV Bookes of P. Ouidius Naso, entytuled Metamorphosis, Book 1,[4]
      [] But for he had hir sought,
      And coulde not finde hir any where, assuredly he thought
      She did not liue aboue the molde, ne drewe the vitall breath:
      Misgiuing worser in his minde, if ought be worse than death.
    • c. 1594, William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene 4,[5]
      [] my mind misgives
      Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
      Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
      With this night’s revels and expire the term
      Of a despised life closed in my breast
      By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
  3. (transitive, archaic) To give wrongly; to give or grant amiss.
    • 1700, William Laud, An Historical Account of All Material Transactions Relating to the University of Oxford in The history of the troubles and tryal of the Most Reverend Father in God and blessed martyr, William Laud, Lord Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, London: Ri[chard] Chiswell, p. 192,[6]
      [] I protest unto you, I knew nothing of any of their Liberty misgiven or misused, till about a Fortnight since []

Derived termsEdit



  1. ^ misgiving” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.