life is forfeit

redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
The use of "forfeit" struck me as oddbecause it means his own life had already been forfeit/ given up, which of course isn't true because he was still there talking to his partners. I'd like to know if "forfeit" has another meaning that would fit into the sentence. I think "my life is forfeit" here means something along the lines of "my life is threatened or compromised, in the balance" etc.

Example
: "It fails in different ways - more time to work means more time to fail. The same wall goes up under a different name, or I have to leave because I've aroused suspicion and my own life is forfeit or the person I think I have convinced has time enough to change his mind back"

Source: Timepiece, Heather Albano

Background: Time traveler Maxwell gave up hope of neutralizing the monsters that would bring catastrophe to the world in the future. But his partners William and Elizabeth thought they still had a fighting chance to change the future. William suggested, instead of time-traveling to the exact day where something needed to be altered, they time-travel to a week or a month in advance so that they could live through the event and had plenty of time to prepare accordingly. But Maxwell dismissed his suggestion, saying that he had tried that before.
 
  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    because he was still there talking to his partners
    Time travel is confusing and we don't have a very good grammar for describing the implications. His frame of reference for this is the time that he has traveled to in the past, not the time that he is speaking in now. If he arouses the suspicion of the people while he is in the past, he will be imprisoned or killed in the distant past and will not be able to come back. His future life after the present will be lost - he will have forfeited it in the past.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The context doesn't help me much, but the adjective 'forfeit' doesn't mean "lost, taken away", it means "condemned, adjudged (to be lost or taken away)". His life is forfeit as soon as someone decides or declares that he must die - whether or not the decision is subsequently executed.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thanks Myridon and entangledbank. Maxwell had cheated death once. He had a close call with a squad of gunmen and was able to escape in time. Is that an example of "his life is forfeit"?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Let's go back to the Word Reference dictionary:
    Forfeit:
    adj lost or surrendered as a forfeit.
    Let's concentrate on the first part:
    His life is forfeit. = His life is lost or surrendered. = He is dead or as good as dead (sentenced to death, imprisoned for life, ...).
     
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