General English


  • noun the fact of having something taken away as a punishment


  • verb (of a captain) to forgo an innings completely, as provided for under the Laws of the game or local playing regulations
    Citation ‘The Kent skipper, Chris Tavaré, forfeited his side’s first innings in a bid to make a match of it against Hampshire’ (Guardian 31 May 1983)
  • verb (of one of the teams in a game) to concede the game to the opposing side by refusing to play
    Citation ‘In accordance with the laws of cricket it was noted that the umpires had correctly deemed that Pakistan had forfeited the match and awarded the Test to England’ (Statement by David Collier, ECB Chief Executive, at the Kennington Oval 21 August 2006)
    See also ball-tampering


  • noun the act of taking something away as a punishment

Origin & History of “forfeit”

A forfeit was originally a ‘transgression’ or ‘misdemeanour’. The word comes from Old French forfet, a derivative of the verb forfaire or forsfaire ‘commit a crime’. this was a compound formed from fors- ‘beyond (what is permitted or legal)’, which is descended from Latin forīs ‘outdoor, outside’ (source of English forest and related to foreign), and faire ‘do, act’, which came from Latin facere (whence English fact, fashion, feature, etc). The etymological meaning ‘misdeed’ was originally taken over from Old French into middle English (‘Peter was in hand nummen (taken) for forfait he had done’, Cursor mundi 1300), but by the 15th century it was being edged out by ‘penalty imposed for committing such a misdeed’.