See also: Ward, -ward, and -wards



Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English ward, from Old English weard (keeper, watchman, guard, guardian, protector; lord, king; possessor), from Proto-Germanic *warduz (guard, keeper), from Proto-Indo-European *wer- (to heed, defend). Cognate with German Wart.


ward (plural wards)

  1. (archaic or obsolete) A warden; a guard; a guardian or watchman.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.xi:
      no gate they found, them to withhold, / Nor ward to wait at morne and euening late [...].

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English ward, warde, from Old English weard (watching, ward, protection, guardianship; advance post; waiting for, lurking, ambuscade), from Proto-Germanic *wardō (protection, attention, keeping), an extension of the stem *wara- (attentive) (English wary, beware), from Proto-Indo-European *wer- (to cover). Cognate with German Warte (watchtower), warten (wait for); English guard is a parallel form which came via Old French.


ward (countable and uncountable, plural wards)

  1. Protection, defence.
    1. (obsolete) A guard or watchman; now replaced by warden.
    2. The action of a watchman; monitoring, surveillance (usually in phrases keep ward etc.).
      • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.vii:
        Before the dore sat selfe-consuming Care, / Day and night keeping wary watch and ward, / For feare least Force or Fraud should vnaware / Breake in []
    3. Guardianship, especially of a child or prisoner.
    4. An enchantment or spell placed over a designated area or social unit, that prevents any tresspasser from entering; approaching; or even being able to locate said protected premises/demographic.
    5. (historical, Scots law) Land tenure through military service.
    6. (fencing) A guarding or defensive motion or position.
  2. A protected place, and by extension, a type of subdivision.
    1. An area of a castle, corresponding to a circuit of the walls.
      • 1942, Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Canongate 2006, page 149:
        Diocletian [] must certainly have derived some consolation from the grandeur of Aspalaton, the great arcaded wall it turned to the Adriatic, its four separate wards, each town size, and its seventeen watch-towers [].
      • 2000, George RR Martin, A Storm of Swords, Bantam 2011, p. 78:
        With the castle so crowded, the outer ward had been given over to guests to raise their tents and pavilions, leaving only the smaller inner yards for training.
    2. A section or subdivision of a prison.
    3. An administrative division of a borough, city or council.
      On our last visit to Tokyo, we went to Chiyoda ward and visited the Emperor's palace.
    4. (Britain) A division of a forest.
    5. (Mormonism) A subdivision of the LDS Church, smaller than and part of a stake, but larger than a branch.
    6. A part of a hospital, with beds, where patients reside.
      • 2011 December 16, Denis Campbell, “Hospital staff 'lack skills to cope with dementia patients'”, in Guardian[1]:
        Many hospitals have not taken simple steps to lessen the distress and confusion which dementia sufferers' often feel on being somewhere so unfamiliar – such as making signs large and easy to read, using colour schemes to help patients find their way around unfamiliar wards and not putting family mementoes such as photographs nearby.
  3. A person under guardianship.
    1. A minor looked after by a guardian.
      After the trial, little Robert was declared a ward of the state.
      • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 22, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
        Not unnaturally, “Auntie” took this communication in bad part. Thus outraged, she showed herself to be a bold as well as a furious virago. Next day she found her way to their lodgings and tried to recover her ward by the hair of the head.
    2. (obsolete) An underage orphan.
  4. An object used for guarding.
    1. The ridges on the inside of a lock, or the incisions on a key.
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 3Edit

From Middle English warden, from Old English weardian (to watch, guard, keep, protect, preserve; hold, possess, occupy, inhabit; rule, govern), from Proto-West Germanic *wardēn, from Proto-Germanic *wardōną, *wardāną (to guard), from Proto-Indo-European *wer- (to heed, defend).


ward (third-person singular simple present wards, present participle warding, simple past and past participle warded)

  1. (transitive) To keep in safety, to watch over, to guard.
  2. (transitive) To defend, to protect.
    • c. 1588–1593, William Shakespeare, “The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene i]:
      Tell him it was a hand that warded him / From a thousand dangers.
    • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, II.3:
      they went to seeke their owne death, and rushed amidst the thickest of their enemies, with an intention, rather to strike, than to ward themselves.
  3. (transitive) To fend off, to repel, to turn aside, as anything mischievous that approaches; -- usually followed by off.
    • 1609, Samuel Daniel, The Civile Wares
      Now wards a felling blow, now strikes again.
    • 1717, Joseph Addison, Metamorphoses
      The pointed javelin warded off his rage.
    • 1741, I[saac] Watts, The Improvement of the Mind: Or, A Supplement to the Art of Logick: [], London: [] James Brackstone, [], OCLC 723474632:
      It instructs the scholar in the various methods of warding off the force of objections.
  4. (intransitive) To be vigilant; to keep guard.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.viii:
      They for vs fight, they watch and dewly ward, / And their bright Squadrons round about vs plant [...].
  5. (intransitive) To act on the defensive with a weapon.
Derived termsEdit

See alsoEdit



Alternative formsEdit




  1. (archaic) first/third-person singular indicative past of werden
    • Genesis 1:3
      Und Gott sprach: »Es werde Licht!« Und es ward Licht.
      And God said: "Let there be light." And there was light.
    • 1918, Heinrich Mann, Der Untertan[2], Leipzig: Kurt Wolff Verlag, page 477:
      Wohingegen Diederich von tiefem Wohlgefallen erfüllt ward durch die Teckel des Kaisers, die vor den Schleppen der Hofdamen keine Achtung zu haben brauchten.
      (please add an English translation of this quote)

Usage notesEdit

Occasionally found in deliberately archaicizing, poetic or biblical contexts.

Further readingEdit

  • ward” in Duden online


3 terms


From Arabic وَرْد(ward).



ward m (collective, singulative warda, plural urad or uradi or urud or uradijiet, paucal wardiet)

  1. rose, roses

Derived termsEdit



Borrowed from English ward.


ward m (genitive singular ward, plural wardyn)

  1. ward (in a hospital)