definition of for by The Free Dictionary


on behalf of; in favor of; because; since

Not to be confused with:

fore – forward; front part; warning by golfer

Abused, Confused, & Misused Words by Mary Embree Copyright © 2007, 2013 by Mary Embree



 (fôr; fər when unstressed)



a. Used to indicate the object, aim, or purpose of an action or activity: trained for the ministry; put the house up for sale; plans to run for senator.

b. Used to indicate a destination: headed off for town.

2. Used to indicate the object of a desire, intention, or perception: had a nose for news; eager for success.


a. Used to indicate the recipient or beneficiary of an action: prepared lunch for us.

b. On behalf of: spoke for all the members.

c. In favor of: Were they for or against the proposal?

d. In place of: a substitute for eggs.


a. Used to indicate equivalence or equality: paid ten dollars for a ticket; repeated the conversation word for word.

b. Used to indicate correlation or correspondence: took two steps back for every step forward.


a. Used to indicate amount, extent, or duration: a bill for five dollars; walked for miles; stood in line for an hour.

b. Used to indicate a specific time: had an appointment for two o’clock.

c. Used to indicate a number of attempts: shot three for four from the foul line.


a. As being: take for granted; mistook me for the librarian.

b. Used to indicate an actual or implied listing or choosing: For one thing, we can’t afford it.

7. As a result of; because of: jumped for joy.

8. Used to indicate appropriateness or suitability: It will be for the judge to decide.

9. Notwithstanding; despite: For all the problems, it was a valuable experience.


a. As regards; concerning: a stickler for neatness.

b. Considering the nature or usual character of: was spry for his advanced age.

c. In honor of: named for her grandmother.


Because of this; for this reason.

Usage Note: For has been used as a conjunction meaning “because, since” for over 1,000 years. It is familiar in many famous quotations, from the New Testament’s beatitudes (Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth, Matthew 5:05) to Shakespeare’s sonnets (For thy sweet love rememb’red such wealth brings / That then I scorn to change my state with kings). Today this use of for is rare in speech and informal writing, and it often lends a literary tone or note of formality. · Like the word so, for can be viewed as either a subordinating or a coordinating conjunction, and it has been treated variously as such. It has the meaning of a subordinating conjunction, since it clearly subordinates the clause that follows it to the previous clause or sentence. But like a coordinating conjunction, for has a fixed position in the sentence, and its clause cannot be transposed to precede the superordinate clause containing the main idea. It is ungrammatical in present-day English to say For they shall inherit the earth: blessed are the meek. Perhaps because of this ambiguity in function, for is treated variously with regard to punctuation. Sometimes it begins a dependent clause and follows a comma, and sometimes it begins an independent clause (as if it were a conjunctive adverb like moreover) and follows a semicolon or period (when it is capitalized as the first word of a new sentence). All treatments are acceptable in standard usage. The difference is really one of emphasis: starting a new sentence with for tends to call more attention to the thought that it introduces.

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(fɔː; unstressed)


1. intended to reach; directed or belonging to: there’s a phone call for you.

2. to the advantage of: I only did it for you.

3. in the direction of: heading for the border.

4. over a span of (time or distance): working for six days; the river ran for six miles.

5. in favour of; in support of: those for the proposal; vote for me.

6. in order to get or achieve: I do it for money; he does it for pleasure; what did you do that for?.

7. appropriate to; designed to meet the needs of; meant to be used in: these kennels are for puppies.

8. in exchange for; at a cost of; to the amount of: I got it for hardly any money.

9. such as explains or results in: his reason for changing his job was not given.

10. in place of: a substitute for the injured player.

11. because of; through: she wept for pure relief.

12. with regard or consideration to the usual characteristics of: he’s short for a man; it’s cool for this time of year.

13. concerning; as regards: desire for money.

14. as being: we took him for the owner; I know that for a fact.

15. at a specified time: a date for the next evening.

16. to do or partake of: an appointment for supper.

17. in the duty or task of: that’s for him to say.

18. to allow of: too big a job for us to handle.

19. despite; notwithstanding: she’s a good wife, for all her nagging.

20. in order to preserve, retain, etc: to fight for survival.

21. as a direct equivalent to: word for word; weight for weight.

22. in order to become or enter: to go for a soldier; to train for the priesthood.

23. in recompense for: I paid for it last week; he took the punishment for his crime.

24. for it informal Brit liable for punishment or blame: you’ll be for it if she catches you.

25. nothing for it no choice; no other course


(coordinating) for the following reason; because; seeing that: I couldn’t stay, for the area was violent.

[Old English; related to Old Norse fyr for, Old High German fora before, Latin per through, prō before, Greek pro before, in front]

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(fɔr; unstressed fər)


1. with the object or purpose of: to run for exercise.

2. intended to belong to or be used in connection with: equipment for the army; a closet for dishes.

3. suiting the purposes or needs of: medicine for the aged.

4. in order to obtain, gain, or acquire: to work for wages.

5. (used to express a wish, as of something to be experienced or obtained): O, for a cold drink!

6. sensitive or responsive to: an eye for beauty.

7. desirous of: a longing for adventure.

8. in consideration or payment of; in return for: three for a dollar.

9. appropriate or adapted to: a subject for speculation; clothes for winter.

10. with regard or respect to: pressed for time.

11. during the continuance of: for a long time.

12. in favor of; on the side of: to be for honest government.

13. in place of; instead of: a substitute for butter.

14. in the interest of; on behalf of: to act for a client.

15. in exchange for; as an offset to: blow for blow.

16. in punishment of: payment for the crime.

17. in honor of: to give a dinner for a person.

18. with the purpose of reaching: to start for London.

19. contributive to: for the advantage of everybody.

20. in order to save: to flee for one’s life.

21. in order to become: to train recruits for soldiers.

22. in assignment or attribution to: That’s for you to decide.

23. such as to allow of or to require: too many for separate mention.

24. such as results in: my reason for going.

25. as affecting the interests or circumstances of: bad for one’s health.

26. in proportion or with reference to: He is tall for his age.

27. in the character of; as being: to know a thing for a fact.

28. by reason of; because of: to shout for joy.

29. in spite of: They’re decent people for all that.

30. to the extent or amount of: to walk for a mile.

31. (used to introduce a subject in an infinitive phrase): It’s time for me to go.

32. (used to indicate the number of successes out of a specified number of attempts): The batter was 2 for 3 in the game.


33. seeing that; since.

34. because.

[before 900; Middle English, Old English]


a prefix meaning “away,” “off,” “to the uttermost,” “extremely,” “wrongly,” or imparting a negative or privative force, occurring in verbs and nouns formed from verbs of Old or Middle English origin: forbid; forswear.

[Middle English, Old English; compare Old High German fir-, far-, Latin per-, Greek peri-]


1. foreign.

2. forester.

3. forestry.

Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


If something is for someone, they are intended to have it or benefit from it.

He left a note for her on the table.

She held out the flowers and said, ‘They’re for you.’

I am doing everything I can for you.

You use for in front of a noun phrase or -ing form when you state the purpose of an object, action, or activity.

Some planes are for internal use, others for international flights.

The mug had been used for mixing flour and water.

You use for in front of a noun phrase when you are saying why someone does something.

We stopped for lunch by the roadside.

I went to the store for a newspaper.

Be Careful!
Don’t use ‘for’ with an -ing form when you saying why someone does something. Don’t say, for example, ‘He went to the city for finding work‘. You say ‘He went to the city to find work’ or ‘He went to the city in order to find work’.

People would stroll down the path to admire the garden.

He had to hurry in order to reach the next place on his schedule.

1. duration

You use for to say how long something lasts or continues.

I’m staying with Bob for a few days.

You also use for to say how long something has been the case.

I have known you for a long time.

He has been missing for three weeks.

Be Careful!
When you use for to say how long something has been the case, you must use a perfect form. Don’t say, for example, ‘I am living here for five years‘. You must say ‘I have lived here for five years’.

2. “”

Don’t confuse for with since. You use since to say that something has been the case from a particular time in the past until now.

Exam results have improved rapidly since 1999.

I’ve known her since she was twelve.

3. used to mean “”

In stories, for is sometimes used to mean “”. This use is rather old-fashioned, and is not used in conversation.

This is where he spent his free time, for he had nowhere else to go.

Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012

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