What is the difference, if any, among forego, forbear, and forsake?

In the thesaurus, 1. forsake is listed in the entry for synonyms of forego, but forbear is not listed in forego. 2. neither forego nor forbear is listed in the entry for forsake. 3. neither forego nor forsake is listed in the entry for forbear.

Please help me clarify the relationship and differences between these three words.

Thank you, Kevin C.

  • You can't just say "the thesaurus"... there are lots of them! – curiousdannii Jul 22 '15 at 4:59
  • Note that the normal spelling of forgo in the sense of "do without [something]" is without an e. In the sense of of "go before" the usual spelling is forego. – Sven Yargs Jul 22 '15 at 5:10

"Forgo" and "forbear" both have the meaning of giving something up:

As tempting as the chocolate cake is, I will have to forgo dessert tonight.

Or more philosophically

Favorinus tells us how Epectetus would also say that there were two faults far graver and fouler than any others -- inability to bear and inability to forbear, when we neither patiently bear the blows that must be borne, nor abstain from the things and the pleasures we ought to abstain from.

But "forbear" often has the connotation of demonstrating patience in abstaining from a favored action, especially when provoked. Shakespeare has Henry VI say in the play of the same name, part 2:

Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all.

"Forsake" means to abandon. Matthew 27:45–46 quotes Jesus on the cross

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?

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To what I can understand from the Dictionary, I came up with below mentioned solution. Forego means to go before / to take a lead.

I was almost ready to forego the best presentation of the year

Forbear means to step back.

I cannot forbear to note what a splendid evening we had

Forsake means to give up.

I refuse to forsake any opportunity for career growth

Definitively, forgo means similar to forbear, but forgo is quite different from forego.

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All three verbs are very old and a bit rare. To forsake means to abandon or to give up. to forbear and to forgo are similar and mean to renounce. Any online dictionary would answer your question.

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