Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To give up (something formerly held dear); renounce: forsook liquor.
  • transitive v. To leave altogether; abandon: forsook Hollywood and returned to the legitimate stage.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To abandon, to give up, to leave (permanently), to renounce.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To quit or leave entirely; to desert; to abandon; to depart or withdraw from; to leave.
  • transitive v. To renounce; to reject; to refuse.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To give up; renounce; reject.
  • To refuse (a request); deny (a statement).
  • To quit or leave entirely; desert; abandon; depart or withdraw from: as, friends and flatterers forsake us in adversity; fortune forsook him.
  • Synonyms Forsake, Desert, Abandon, Relinquish, Quit. These all express the idea of giving up or leaving. The first three are strong expressions, ordinarily conveying the idea of loss to that which is left; the fourth, on the other hand, suggests loss to him who relinquishes. Forsake is chiefly applied to leaving that by which natural affection or a sense of duty should or might have led us to remain: as, to forsake one's home, friends, country, or cause; a bird forsakes its nest. In the passive it often means left desolate, forlorn. Forsake may be used in a good sense: as, the color forsook her cheeks; even hope forsook him. Desert may be synonymous with forsake, but in the active voice it usually implies a greater degree of culpability, and often the infringement of a legal obligation: as, to desert one's family, regiment, ship, colors, post. Such was the original use of the word. Abandon most fully expresses complete and final severance of connection: as, to abandon a ship or a hopeless undertaking; to abandon hope or property. Sometimes, but not so often as desert or forsake, it implies the dropping of all care or concern for an object: as, to abandon one's offspring Relinquish is not used with a personal object: as, to relinquish a claim, land, effort. (See lists under relinquish and abandon.) To quit is to leave finally or hastily, or both.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. leave someone who needs or counts on you; leave in the lurch

Etymologies

Middle English forsaken, from Old English forsacan; see sāg- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English forsaken ("to reject, deny"), from Old English forsacan ("to dispute, quarrel, refuse, oppose"), from Proto-Germanic *farsakanan (“to renounce”), equivalent to for- +‎ sake. Akin to Middle High German versachen ("to deny"), Danish forsage ("to give up"), Norwegian forsake ("to give up, renounce"), Swedish försaka ("to give up, to be without"), Gothic 𐍃𐌰𐌺𐌰𐌽 (sakan). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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