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From Middle English for, from Old English for (for, on account of, for the sake of, through, because of, owing to, from, by reason of, as to, in order to), from Proto-Germanic *furi (for), from Proto-Indo-European *preh₂-. Cognate with West Frisian forfoar (for)Dutch voor (for)German für (for)Danish for (for)Swedish för (for)Norwegian for (for)Icelandic fyrir (for)Latin per (by, through, for, by means of) and Romance language successors (e.g. Spanish para (for)), Ancient Greek περί (perífor, about, toward)Lithuanian per (by, through, during)Sanskrit परि (páriover, around).




  1. (now uncommon) Because.
    • 1900L. Frank BaumThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Chapter 23
      “By means of the Golden Cap I shall command the Winged Monkeys to carry you to the gates of the Emerald City,” said Glinda, “for it would be a shame to deprive the people of so wonderful a ruler.”




  1. Towards.
    The astronauts headed for the moon.
  2. Directed at, intended to belong to.
    I have something for you.
  3. Supporting (opposite of against).
    All those for the motion raise your hands.
  4. Because of. quotations ▲
    He wouldn’t apologize; and just for that, she refused to help him.
    (UK usage) He looks better for having lost weight.
    She was the worse for drink.
    • Shakespeare
      with fiery eyes sparkling for very wrath
    • 1867, Frederick Metcalfe, The Oxonian in Iceland (page 202)
      “A summerly day for you,” said my host; “You ought to be here in winter. It is impossible then to get out of the doors for the snow and wind. Ugh! dreadful weather!”
  5. Over a period of time. quotations ▲
    I’ve lived here for three years.
    They fought for days over a silly pencil.
    • Garth
      To guide the sun’s bright chariot for a day.
  6. Throughout an extent of space.
    • Shakespeare
      For many miles about / There’s scarce a bush.
  7. On behalf of.
    I will stand in for him.
  8. Instead of, or in place of.
    • Bible, Exodus xxi. 23, 24
      And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
  9. In order to obtain or acquire.
    I am aiming for completion by the end of business Thursday.
    He’s going for his doctorate.
    Do you want to go for coffee?
    People all over Greece looked to Delphi for answers.
    Can you go to the store for some eggs?
    I’m saving up for a car.
    Don’t wait for an answer.
    What did he ask you for?
    • Denham
      He writes not for money, nor for praise.
  10. In the direction of: marks a point one is going toward.
    Run for the hills!
    He was headed for the door when he remembered.
    • Francis Bacon
      We sailed from Peru for China and Japan.
  11. By the standards of, usually with the implication of those standards being lower than one might otherwise expect.
    Fair for its day.
    She’s spry for an old lady.
  12. Despitein spite of.
    • 1892 August 6, Charles Dickens, “The Unbidden Guest”, in All the Year Round,[1] page 133,
      Mr. Joseph Blenkinshaw was perhaps not worth quite so much as was reported; but for all that he was a very wealthy man []
    • 1968, J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (page 240)
      For all his faults, there had been something lofty and great about him – as a judge, as a patron of education, as a builder, as an international figure.
  13. Used to indicate the subject of a to-infinitive.
    For that to happen now is incredibly unlikely. (=It is incredibly unlikely that that will happen now.)
    All I want is for you to be happy. (=All I want is that you be happy.)
  14. (chiefly US) Out ofused to indicate a fraction, a ratio
    In term of base hits, Jones was three for four on the day
  15. (cricket) used as part of a score to indicate the number of wickets that have fallen
    At close of play, England were 305 for 3.
  16. Indicating that in the character of or as being which anything is regarded or treated; to be, or as being.
    • Cowley
      We take a falling meteor for a star.
    • John Locke
      If a man can be fully assured of anything for a truth, without having examined, what is there that he may not embrace for true?
    • Dryden
      Most of our ingenious young men take up some cry’d-up English poet for their model.
    • Philips
      But let her go for an ungrateful woman.
  17. Used to construe various verbs. See the entry for the phrasal verb.
  18. (obsolete) Indicating that in prevention of which, or through fear of which, anything is done.
    • Beaumont and Fletcher
      We’ll have a bib, for spoiling of thy doublet.

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Derived terms