The Meaning of Bereft: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of bereft? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word bereft, including its definition, usage, etymology, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word bereft mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary and Dictionary, the word bereft is an adjective (pronounced​​​ bɪˈrɛft) that means deprived, or having lost something. This can be used literally and figuratively to describe anything that is lacking. Someone could both be bereft of food, and bereft of happiness. A bereft woman might be living on the streets, or bereft parents might have lost a child or other human life. The most common formation of bereft is the term “bereft of.” These are two examples of using bereft literally and figuratively. Try using this word of the day or other new words in a sentence today!

Other languages also contain words that mean bereft. It can be very useful to know a selection of translations for different words if you are traveling to a foregin country as well as if you are trying to communicate with someone who does not speak English. This list of translations for the word bereft is provided by Word Sense.

  • Icelandic: svipta‎, taka frá‎
  • Turkish: yoksun‎, mahrum‎
  • Swedish: berövad‎
  • Maori: tukaunga‎
  • Russian: утративший‎, лишённый‎, ограбленный‎
  • Finnish: ilman‎, osaton‎

How can the word bereft be used in a sentence?

The word bereft can be used both literally and figuratively to refer to something that is deprived or someone who has lost something. In the first example, the word bereft will be used literally. Two coworkers are talking about a third coworker.

Coworker 1: Have you seen Linda lately? I feel like I haven’t seen her in like a month.

Coworker 2: Yeah, she’s been with her family in the south. A hurricane left her mom and dad completely bereft of their home, so she’s working on getting them moved up here into some new construction.

Coworker 1: Oh my God, that’s awful. I’m just happy everyone is okay. But how devastating. I hope their worries are over soon. 

Here, the second coworker says that Linda’s mother and father are bereft of their home. We can infer from the mention of the hurricane that the storm wiped out their entire home. In this next example, the word bereft will be used figuratively. The same two coworkers are talking after a conference. 

Coworker 1: That was the dullest conference I have ever been to. I think I fell asleep with my eyes open halfway through.

Coworker: I am bereft of all will to keep working. How are we meant to do our jobs after that?

What is the origin of the word bereft?

According to Etymonline, the word bereft has been used since the late 14th century, and is the past participle adjective of the word bereave. The word bereave is a verb that comes from the Middle English bireven, from the Old English bereafian meaning to deprive of or seize. This comes from the prefix be and the root reafian meaning to rob or plunder. This is also likely where we get the related word ruffian. This comes from the Proto-Germanic raubōjanan, from the Proto-Indo-European root runp, meaning to break. This is also where we get the word corrupt. The word bereave has been used since the mid-17th century to refer to life, hope, and loved ones. 

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word bereft?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word bereft. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as a given word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful to know. They are an easy way to expand your vocabulary, and they can help you avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word bereft is provided by Thesaurus

  • hunger
  • call for
  • beggared
  • mourning
  • be in need of
  • shorn
  • lack
  • lacking
  • be in want
  • hanker
  • be needy
  • wanting
  • be without
  • yearn
  • pine
  • AWOL
  • bereaved
  • needing
  • be poor
  • require
  • left behind
  • unaccounted for
  • have occasion for
  • disappeared
  • dispossessed
  • deprivation
  • grief
  • necessitate
  • be short
  • missing
  • feel the pinch
  • claim
  • crave
  • suffer privation
  • deprived
  • divested
  • misplaced
  • destitute
  • short
  • long
  • be down and out
  • yen for
  • exact
  • impoverished
  • miss
  • feel a dearth of
  • gone
  • cut off
  • minus
  • omitted
  • mislaid
  • have occasion to
  • astray
  • away
  • wish
  • do without
  • stripped
  • nowhere to be found
  • devoid
  • lust
  • go hungry
  • hurt for
  • be deficient
  • left without
  • be hard up
  • thirst
  • absent
  • drive for
  • have use for
  • lost
  • parted from
  • naked
  • be deprived
  • desire
  • removed
  • fleeced
  • feel the necessity for
  • demand
  • covet
  • robbed
  • be inadequate
  • left out
  • without
  • die for
  • not present

There are also numerous different words that mean the opposite of the word bereft. These are known as antonyms, which are another quick and easy way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of opposite words for the word bereft is also provided by Thesaurus

  • full-dress
  • plenteous
  • weighted
  • sated
  • gorged
  • brimful
  • thoroughgoing
  • full
  • chockablock
  • unimpaired
  • lock stock and barrel
  • thorough
  • undiminished
  • crowded
  • uncondensed
  • sufficient
  • jammed full
  • filled
  • competent
  • packed like sardines
  • chock-full
  • hook line and sinker
  • outright
  • voluminous
  • loaded
  • imbued
  • plethoric
  • unabridged
  • undocked
  • imperforate
  • teeming
  • gross
  • running over
  • unbroken
  • adequate
  • lavish
  • uncut
  • entire
  • plenary
  • crammed
  • burdened
  • impregnated
  • abundant
  • stocked
  • whole nine yards
  • replete
  • jammed
  • whole
  • undivided
  • whole-hog
  • extravagant
  • intact
  • organic
  • unreduced
  • glutted
  • whole enchilada
  • padded
  • satisfied
  • unexpurgated
  • faultless
  • bounteous
  • integrated
  • big
  • stuffed
  • abounding
  • packed
  • overflowing
  • laden
  • the works
  • unitary
  • saturated
  • bursting
  • profuse
  • brimming
  • plentiful
  • integral
  • satiated
  • suffused
  • jam-packed
  • complete
  • awash
  • exhaustive
  • whole-length
  • all
  • surfeited
  • unabbreviated

Overall, the word bereft is an adjective that means deprived or having lost something. This word comes from the word bereave, which is a verb that means to deprive something or to make something desolate. This word can be used both literally and figuratively.