• Word


    • UK IPA: /wɜː(ɹ)d/
    • US enPR: wûrd, IPA: /wɝd/
    • Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)d
    • Homophones: whirred accents with the wine-whine merger


    From Middle English word, from Old English word ("word, speech, sentence, statement, command, order, subject of talk, story, news, report, fame, promise, verb"), from Proto-Germanic *wurdą ("word"), from Proto-Indo-European *werdʰo- ("word"). Cognate with Scots wird ("word"), West Frisian wurd ("word"), Dutch woord ("word"), German Wort ("word"), Danish, Norwegian and Swedish ord ("word"), Icelandic orð ("word"), Latin verbum ("word"), Lithuanian vardas ("name"), Albanian urtë ("sage, wise, silent"). Etymological twin to verb.

    Full definition of word



    (plural words)
    1. The fact or action of speaking, as opposed to writing or to action. from 9th c.
      • 1811, Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility:she believed them still so very much attached to each other, that they could not be too sedulously divided in word and deed on every occasion.
      • 2004, Richard Williams, The Guardian, 8 Sep 2004:As they fell apart against Austria, England badly needed someone capable of leading by word and example.
    2. (now rare, except in phrases) Something which has been said; a comment, utterance; speech. from 10th c.
      • 1499, John Skelton, The Bowge of Court:Among all other was wrytten in her trone
        In golde letters, this worde, whiche I dyde rede:
        Garder le fortune que est mauelz et bone.
      • 1611, Bible, Authorized Version, Matthew XXVI.75:And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
      • Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)She said; but at the happy word "he lives",
        My father stooped, re-fathered, o'er my wound.
      • Charles Dickens (1812-1870)There is only one other point on which I offer a word of remark.
      • 1945, Sebastian Haffner, The Observer, 1 Apr 1945:"The Kaiser laid down his arms at a quarter to twelve. In me, however, they have an opponent who ceases fighting only at five minutes past twelve," said Hitler some time ago. He has never spoken a truer word.
      • 2011, David Bellos, Is That a Fish in Your Ear?, Penguin 2012, p. 126:Despite appearances to the contrary ... dragomans stuck rigidly to their brief, which was not to translate the Sultan's words, but his word.
    3. A distinct unit of language (sounds in speech or written letters) with a particular meaning, composed of one or more morphemes, and also of one or more phonemes that determine its sound pattern. from 10th c.
      • Shakespeare Hamlet, II.iiPolonius: What do you read, my lord?Hamlet: Words, words, words.
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, The Celebrity Chapter 4, Mr. Cooke at once began a tirade against the residents of Asquith for permitting a sandy and generally disgraceful condition of the roads. So roundly did he vituperate the inn management in particular, and with such a loud flow of words, that I trembled lest he should be heard on the veranda.
      • 2013-06-14, Sam Leith, Where the profound meets the profane, Swearing doesn't just mean what we now understand by "dirty words". It is entwined, in social and linguistic history, with the other sort of swearing: vows and oaths. Consider for a moment the origins of almost any word we have for bad language – "profanity", "curses", "oaths" and "swearing" itself.
    4. A distinct unit of language which is approved by some authority.
      • 1896, Israel Zangwill, Without Prejudice, page 21:“Ain’t! How often am I to tell you ain’t ain’t a word?”
      • 1999, Linda Greenlaw, The Hungry Ocean, Hyperion, page 11:Fisherwoman isn’t even a word. It’s not in the dictionary.
    5. (news, tidings)News; tidings. from 10th c.
      • Orwell Animal Farm|1Word had gone round during the day that old Major, the prize Middle White boar, had had a strange dream on the previous night and wished to communicate it to the other animals.
    6. Have you had any word from John yet?
    7. An order; a request or instruction. from 10th c.
      He sent word that we should strike camp before winter.
    8. A promise; an oath or guarantee. from 10th c.
      I give you my word that I will be there on time.
    9. (theology, sometimes Word) Christ. from 8th c.
      • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, John I:And that worde was made flesshe, and dwelt amonge vs, and we sawe the glory off yt, as the glory off the only begotten sonne off the father, which worde was full of grace, and verite.
    10. (theology, sometimes Word) Communication from god; the message of the Christian gospel; the Bible. from 10th c.
      Her parents had lived in Botswana, spreading the word among the tribespeople.
    11. A brief discussion or conversation. from 15th c.
      Can I have a word with you?
    12. (in the plural) Angry debate or conversation; argument. from 15th c.
      There had been words between him and the secretary about the outcome of the meeting.
    13. Any sequence of letters or characters considered as a discrete entity. from 19th c.
    14. (telegraphy) A unit of text equivalent to five characters and one space. from 19th c.
    15. (computing) A fixed-size group of bits handled as a unit by a machine. On many 16-bit machines a word is 16 bits or two bytes. from 20th c.
    16. (computer science) A finite string which is not a command or operator.
    17. (group theory) A group element, expressed as a product of group elements.
    18. Different symbols, written or spoken, arranged together in a unique sequence that approximates a thought in a person's mind.

    Usage notes

    (distinct unit of language) In English and other space-delimited languages, it is customary to treat "word" as referring to any sequence of characters delimited by spaces. However, this is not applicable to languages such as Chinese and Japanese, which are normally written without spaces, or to languages such as Vietnamese, which are written with a space between each syllable.

    (computing) The size (length) of a word, while being fixed in a particular machine or processor family design, can be different in different designs, for many reasons. See for a full explanation.



    1. (transitive) To say or write (something) using particular words.I’m not sure how to word this letter to the council.
    2. (archaic) To use words, as in discussion; to argue; to dispute.
    3. (obsolete) To flatter with words; to cajole.



    1. (slang, AAVE) truth, to tell or speak the truth; the shortened form of the statement, "My word is my bond," an expression eventually shortened to "Word is bond," before it finally got cut to just "Word," which is its most commonly used form.
      • "Yo, that movie was epic!"
        "Word?" ("You speak the truth?")
        "Word." ("I speak the truth.")
    2. (slang, emphatic, stereotypically, AAVE) An abbreviated form of word up; a statement of the acknowledgment of fact with a hint of nonchalant approval.
      • 2004, Shannon Holmes, Never Go Home Again: A Novel, page 218"... Know what I'm sayin'?"
        "Word!" the other man strongly agreed. "Let's do this — "
      • 2007, Gabe Rotter, Duck Duck Wally: A Novel, page 105"... Not bad at all, man. Worth da wait, dawg. Word."
        "You liked it?" I asked dumbly, stoned still, and feeling victorious.
        "Yeah, man," said Oral B. "Word up. ..."
      • 2007, Relentless Aaron The Last Kingpin, page 34"... I mean, I don't blame you... Word! ..."


    © Wiktionary