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

  • prep. Used to indicate the object, aim, or purpose of an action or activity: trained for the ministry; put the house up for sale; plans to run for senator.
  • prep. Used to indicate a destination: headed off for town.
  • prep. Used to indicate the object of a desire, intention, or perception: had a nose for news; eager for success.
  • prep. Used to indicate the recipient or beneficiary of an action: prepared lunch for us.
  • prep. On behalf of: spoke for all the members.
  • prep. In favor of: Were they for or against the proposal?
  • prep. In place of: a substitute for eggs.
  • prep. Used to indicate equivalence or equality: paid ten dollars for a ticket; repeated the conversation word for word.
  • prep. Used to indicate correlation or correspondence: took two steps back for every step forward.
  • prep. Used to indicate amount, extent, or duration: a bill for five dollars; walked for miles; stood in line for an hour.
  • prep. Used to indicate a specific time: had an appointment for two o'clock.
  • prep. Used to indicate a number of attempts: shot three for four from the foul line.
  • prep. As being: take for granted; mistook me for the librarian.
  • prep. Used to indicate an actual or implied listing or choosing: For one thing, we can't afford it.
  • prep. As a result of; because of: jumped for joy.
  • prep. Used to indicate appropriateness or suitability: It will be for the judge to decide.
  • prep. Notwithstanding; despite: For all the problems, it was a valuable experience.
  • prep. As regards; concerning: a stickler for neatness.
  • prep. Considering the nature or usual character of: was spry for his advanced age.
  • prep. In honor of: named for her grandmother.
  • conj. Because; since.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • conj. because
  • prep. Towards.
  • prep. Directed at, intended to belong to.
  • prep. Supporting (opposite of against).
  • prep. Because of.
  • prep. Over a period of time.
  • prep. On behalf of.
  • prep. To obtain.
  • prep. In the direction of: marks a point one is going toward.
  • prep. By the standards of, usually with the implication of those standards being lower than one might otherwise expect.
  • prep. Despite, in spite of.
  • prep. Used to indicate the subject of a to-infinitive.
  • prep. Out of; used to indicate a fraction, a ratio
  • prep. used as part of a score to indicate the number of wickets that have fallen
  • prep. Used to construe various verbs. See the entry for the phrasal verb.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • conj. Because; by reason that; for that; indicating, in Old English, the reason of anything.
  • conj. Since; because; introducing a reason of something before advanced, a cause, motive, explanation, justification, or the like, of an action related or a statement made. It is logically nearly equivalent to since, or because, but connects less closely, and is sometimes used as a very general introduction to something suggested by what has gone before.
  • n. One who takes, or that which is said on, the affrimative side; that which is said in favor of some one or something; -- the antithesis of against, and commonly used in connection with it.
  • prep. In the most general sense, indicating that in consideration of, in view of, or with reference to, which anything is done or takes place.
  • prep. Indicating the antecedent cause or occasion of an action; the motive or inducement accompanying and prompting to an act or state; the reason of anything; that on account of which a thing is or is done.
  • prep. Indicating the remoter and indirect object of an act; the end or final cause with reference to which anything is, acts, serves, or is done.
  • prep. Indicating that in favor of which, or in promoting which, anything is, or is done; hence, in behalf of; in favor of; on the side of; -- opposed to against.
  • prep. Indicating that toward which the action of anything is directed, or the point toward which motion is made; �ntending to go to.
  • prep. Indicating that on place of or instead of which anything acts or serves, or that to which a substitute, an equivalent, a compensation, or the like, is offered or made; instead of, or place of.
  • prep. Indicating that in the character of or as being which anything is regarded or treated; to be, or as being.
  • prep. Indicating that instead of which something else controls in the performing of an action, or that in spite of which anything is done, occurs, or is; hence, equivalent to notwithstanding, in spite of; -- generally followed by all, aught, anything, etc.
  • prep. Indicating the space or time through which an action or state extends; hence, during; in or through the space or time of.
  • prep. Indicating that in prevention of which, or through fear of which, anything is done.
  • prep. so far as concerns; as regards; with reference to; -- used parenthetically or independently. See under As.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Before.
  • In time.
  • In order or degree.
  • In the direction of; toward; with the view of reaching.
  • Expressing inclination, tendency, or bent: as, an itch for scribbling; a taste for art; a love for drink.
  • In quest of; with a view to the coming or attainment of; in order to obtain or attain to; as expecting or seeking: as, waiting for the morning; to send for persons and papers; to write for money or for fame.
  • In place of; instead of; in consideration of: as, to pay a dollar for a thing; two for five cents.
  • As an offset to; as offsetting; corresponding to: as, to give blow for blow.
  • In the place and behalf of: as, he acted as attorney for another.
  • In the interest of; with a view to the use, benefit, comfort, convenience, etc., of: expressing purpose or object: as, the earth was made for man; to provide for a family.
  • On account of; because of; with regard to: as, to fear for one's life.
  • In favor of; on the side of: as, to vote for a person or a measure; I am for peace.
  • With reference to the needs, purposes, or uses of: as, salt is good for cattle; skins are used for rugs.
  • In the character of; as; as being: as, to be taken for a thief; he was left for dead on the field.
  • Because or by reason of; as affected or influenced by: as, he cried out for anguish; but for me he would have gone.
  • By the want of; in the absence or insufficiency of: as, to be cramped for space; to be straitened for means.
  • To the extent, number, quantity, or amount of: as, he is liable for the whole sum.
  • Through; throughout; during the continuance of: as, we traveled for three days; to be appointed for life.
  • In relation to; with respect or regard to; as affects or concerns; as regards: as, sorrow is past for him; as for me, I am content; for the present everything is right.
  • In proportion or with reference to; considering the state or character of: as, he is tall for his age; it is very well done for him.
  • Appropriate or adapted to; suitable to the purpose, requirement, character, or state of: as, a subject for speculation; a remedy for the toothacho; stores for the winter; this is no place for a sick man.
  • In the direction of, or conducive or necessary to.
  • In assignment or attribution to; the share, lot, possession, right, duty, or privilege of: as, freedom is for the brave; it is for you to decide.
  • To be or become; designing or designed to be or serve as; with the purpose or function of (becoming or doing something): as, the boy is intended for a lawyer; to run for sheriff; a mill for grinding corn; a sketch for a picture.
  • In order to prevent or avoid; against.
  • In spite of; without regard to; notwithstanding: as, that is true for aught I know.
  • In order; with the intent: used redundantly before the infinitive with to: formerly common, but now obsolete or vulgar: as, I came for to see you.
  • [For, governing prepositionally a noun or pronoun followed by an infinitive, is sometimes used, in familiar or careless style, with the value of that before a verb in the conditional: for example, for him to do that (that is, that he should do that) would be a pity.
  • For the reason that; because; seeing that; since: in modern usage employed only to introduce an independent clause, or frequently a separate sentence, giving a reason for, or a justification or explanation of, something previously said.
  • In order that.
  • Synonyms See since.
  • An inseparable prefix in words of Middle English and Anglo-Saxon origin, formerly attachable at will to any verb admitting of the qualification conveyed by this prefix, but no longer used or felt as a living formative.
  • A form of fore-, in forward, forward, forgo.
  • A prefix of Latin origin, in forclose (= foreclose), forfeit, and for-judge (which see).
  • An abbreviation of foreign: as, for. sec., foreign secretary.


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

Middle English, from Old English.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English for, from Old English for ("for, on account of, for the sake of, through, because of, owing to, from, by reason of, as to, in order to"), from Proto-Germanic *furi (“for”), from Proto-Indo-European *peri- (“around”). Cognate with West Frisian for, foar ("for"), Dutch voor ("for"), German für ("for"), Danish for ("for"), Swedish för ("for"), Norwegian for ("for"), Icelandic fyrir ("for"), Latin per ("by, through, for, by means of"), Ancient Greek περί (peri, "for, about, toward"), Lithuanian per ("by, through, during"), Sanskrit परि (pári, "over, around").


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  • ... but he was not a pawn on any chessboard of Mr Penicuik's making; and, for he was a gamester, he would have forgone every penny of that considerable fortune rather than have obeyed such a summons as he had received.

    —Georgette Heyer, Cotillion, ch. 12

    A highly unusual instance of a phrase beginning with causal for preceding its main clause. It is probably only possible here (to the questionable extent that it is possible) because it's a supplement inside an expanded clause, namely and he would have forgone... We could perhaps insert this supplement at other non-initial points in the clause too:

    and he would, for he was a gamester, have forgone...

    That is, although it appears to wholly precede the non-expanded clause he would have forgone..., its appearance is actually licensed by its being embedded in a higher clause. Or is it? Could we, could Georgette Heyer, with no more than the same oddness or archaism of phrasing, place it initially in an independent sentence?

    For he was a gamester, he would have forgone...

    No, I don't think so. The embedded version rates a '?' from me, the initial one '*'. It's not at all grammatical in my dialect; Heyer's original is merely surprising and odd.

    The CGEL discusses various evidence about whether this causal for is a coordinator (like and, but, or, nor) or a preposition (like because, since), and comes down on the side of a preposition. (The traditional category 'conjunction' is not used by CGEL.)

    June 23, 2010