• Worth


    • RP: IPA: /wɜːθ/
    • US: IPA: /wɜrθ/
    • Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)θ, -ɜ(ɹ)θ

    Origin 1

    From worth or wurth, from Old English weorþ, from Proto-Germanic *werþaz ("towards, opposite") (the noun developing from the adjective). Cognate with German wert/Wert, Dutch waard ("adjective"), Swedish värd.

    Full definition of worth


    1. Having a value of; proper to be exchanged for.My house now is worth double what I paid for it.Cleanliness is the virtue most worth having but one.
    2. Deserving of.I think you’ll find my proposal worth your attention.
    3. (obsolete, except in Scots) Valuable, worth while.
    4. Making a fair equivalent of, repaying or compensating.This job is hardly worth the effort.

    Usage notes

    The modern adjectival senses of worth compare two noun phrases, prompting some sources to classify the word as a preposition. Most, however, list it an adjective, some with notes like "governing a noun with prepositional force." Fowler's Modern English Usage says, "the adjective worth requires what is most easily described as an object."

    Joan Maling (1983) shows that worth is best analysed as a preposition rather than an adjective. CGEL (2002) analyzes it as an adjective.



    (countable and uncountable; plural worths)
    1. (countable) Value.I’ll have a dollar's worth of candy, please.They have proven their worths as individual fighting men and their worth as a unit.
    2. (uncountable) Merit, excellence.Our new director is a man whose worth is well acknowledged.
      • 2012, September 7, Phil McNulty, Moldova 0-5 England, Manchester United's Tom Cleverley impressed on his first competitive start and Lampard demonstrated his continued worth at international level in a performance that was little more than a stroll once England swiftly exerted their obvious authority.

    Origin 2

    From Old English weorþan, from Proto-Germanic *werþaną, from Proto-Indo-European *wert-. Cognate with Dutch worden, German werden, Old Norse verða (Norwegian verta, Swedish varda), Latin vertere.


    1. (obsolete, except in set phrases) To be, become, betide.
      • 1843, , , book 2, ch. 3, "Lndlord Edmund"For, adds our erudite Friend, the Saxon weorthan equivalent to the German werden, means to grow, to become; traces of which old vocable are still found in the North-country dialects, as, ‘What is word of him?’ meaning ‘What is become of him?’ and the like. Nay we in modern English still say, ‘Woe worth the hour.’ Woe befall the hour
      • 14th century, Pearl poet, Sir Gawain and the Green KnightCorsed worth cowarddyse and couetyse boþe! Cursed be cowardice and covetousness both
    2. Woe worth the man that crosses me.

    Derived terms


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