from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To lose or give up (something) on account of an offense, error, or failure to fulfill an agreement.
  • transitive verb To subject to seizure as a forfeit.
  • noun Something that is lost or given up on account of an offense, error, or failure to fulfill an agreement.
  • noun The act of forfeiting.
  • noun In parlor games, an item placed in escrow and redeemed by paying a fine or performing an appointed task.
  • noun A game in which forfeits are demanded.
  • adjective Lost or subject to loss through forfeiture.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To lose the legal or moral right to by one's own act or omission to act, usually by a breach of conditions or by a wrong act, offense, fault, crime, or neglect; become by one's own act liable to be deprived of.
  • To cause the forfeiture of.
  • To yield up as a forfeiture.
  • To subject to forfeiture.
  • To transgress; trespass; commit a fault.
  • Forfeited.
  • noun A transgression; a misdeed; a crime; a malicious injury.
  • noun That to which the legal or moral right is lost by one's own act or failure to act, as by a breach of conditions or by a wrong deed or offense; hence, that which is taken or paid in forfeiture; a fine; a mulct; a penalty: as, he who murders pays the forfeit of his life.
  • noun Something deposited and redeemable by a sportive fine; hence, in the plural, a game in which articles deposited by individual players as forfeited by doing or omitting to do something are redeemable by some sportive fine or penalty imposed by the judge.
  • noun Synonyms See list under forfeiture.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb obsolete To be guilty of a misdeed; to be criminal; to transgress.
  • intransitive verb obsolete To fail to keep an obligation.
  • past participle In the condition of being forfeited; subject to alienation.
  • transitive verb To lose, or lose the right to, by some error, fault, offense, or crime; to render one's self by misdeed liable to be deprived of; to alienate the right to possess, by some neglect or crime; ; -- with to before the one acquiring what is forfeited.
  • noun Obs. & R. Injury; wrong; mischief.
  • noun A thing forfeit or forfeited; what is or may be taken from one in requital of a misdeed committed; that which is lost, or the right to which is alienated, by a crime, offense, neglect of duty, or breach of contract; hence, a fine; a mulct; a penalty.
  • noun Something deposited and redeemable by a sportive fine; -- whence the game of forfeits.
  • adjective Lost or alienated for an offense or crime; liable to penal seizure.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun a penalty for or consequence of a misdemeanor
  • verb To suffer the loss of something by wrongdoing or non-compliance
  • verb To lose a contest, game, match, or other form of competition by voluntary withdrawal, by failing to attend or participate, or by violation of the rules

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

  • noun the act of losing or surrendering something as a penalty for a mistake or fault or failure to perform etc.
  • adjective surrendered as a penalty
  • verb lose ( or lose the right to ( by some error, offense, or crime
  • noun something that is lost or surrendered as a penalty
  • noun a penalty for a fault or mistake that involves losing or giving up something


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

[Middle English forfet, crime, penalty, from Old French forfait, past participle of forfaire, to commit a crime, act outside the law : fors-, beyond; see foreclose + faire, to do; see feasible.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English from ca. 1300, from Old French forfait "crime", originally the past participle of forfaire "transgress", ad Middle Latin foris factum. During the 15th century, the sense shifted from the crime to the penalty for the crime.


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  • For she had nursed at the breast of nature, -- in forfeit of a mother, -- and she loved the old trees and the creeping green things with a passionate love; and the dim murmur of growing life was a gladness to her ears, and the damp earth-smells were sweet to her nostrils.

    CHAPTER 2 2010

  • Draft numbers: For the second straight year there will be 57 selections as the Minnesota Timberwolves again forfeit their first-round pick as part of a penalty assessed by NBA commissioner David Stern for salary cap violations. - NBA Draft notebook 2002

  • If unsuccessful, she returns to her place and pays a forfeit, which is redeemed at the end of the game.

    Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium Jessie Hubbell Bancroft

  • By general custom all pencils, india-rubbers, or other stray possessions were put into what was known as the forfeit tray, whence their owners might reclaim them by paying the penalty of the loss of an order mark.

    The New Girl at St. Chad's A Story of School Life Angela Brazil 1907

  • He knew that the minutest trifle must not escape his attention, or the forfeit might be his life.

    The Lords of the Wild A Story of the Old New York Border 1890

  • We have few signs and no ceremonies, but our promises are binding, and the forfeit is a painful death -- so painful that even you might flinch before it.

    Marietta A Maid of Venice 1881

  • Bhima strove with furious valour, for his forfeit was his life!

    Maha-bharata The Epic of Ancient India Condensed into English Verse Romesh Dutt 1878

  • Last night, being desired to name a forfeit for the padre, I condemned him to dance the jarabe, of which he performed a few steps in his long gown and girdle, with equal awkwardness and good nature.

    Life in Mexico, During a Residence of Two Years in That Country Frances Erskine Inglis 1843

  • The forfeit was the second loss for the team of 15-year-olds and it eliminated them from the eight-team, Northern California Babe Ruth League tournament, Larson said.

    CBS 5 - San Francisco Bay Area's source for news, weather, traffic and sports 2010

  • Well, whatever anyone says I am going to miss the comprehensive spending review because, in the end, it turned out to be so fun, going round the big table at Chequers with everyone shouting out ideas for the last billion of cuts, absolutely hilarious, and anyone who hesitated or mentioned bankers had to do a forfeit, which is why poor Cleggsy had to stay and clean the swimming pool.

    The Guardian World News Catherine Bennett 2010


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