To forbear is to refrain, to hold back, or to tolerate in the face of provocation. The word only works as a verb. Its past tense is forbore, and its past participle is forborne. It’s usually pronounced for-BEAR. Forebear, meanwhile, is a noun referring to a person from whom one is descended—i.e., an ancestor. It’s usually pronounced FOR-bear.
For obvious reasons, the two words are often confused. They are easy to keep separate, though, if you remember that a forebear is one who comes before. And forbear is perhaps easy to remember if you keep in mind that its corresponding noun is forbearance. Forebearance, with the e in the first syllable, is not a dictionary-recognized word, so it doesn’t pass spell check.
Last October, NMT defaulted on a $4 million loan from Silicon Valley Bank, which agreed to forbear from calling in its note. [Mass Device]
In short, perpetrators must forbear from protestations of innocence while their victims forbear from revenge. [Forgiveness and Reconciliation]
The agency promised to forbear on all but six of the four dozen rules that apply to phone services. [Washington Post]
He is seen as a forebear to Bolivia’s contemporary indigenous movement. [The Progressive]
Thousands upon thousands of Jews were being expelled from the land of theirforebears and the forebears of their forebears. [Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone, Eduardo Galleano]
It is thought that the forebear of the cougar migrated from Asia into North America over the Bering land bridge approximately 8 million years ago. [MongaBay.com]