Open main menu

Wiktionary β

See also: Word, worð, and ƿord



Wikipedia has articles on:


Etymology 1Edit

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 *wr̥dʰom, zero-grade form of *werdʰo- (word). Cognate with Scots wourd, 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), Latvian vārds (word, name). Doublet of verb.


word (plural words)


The word inventory may be pronounced with four syllables (/ˈɪn.vən.tɔ.ɹɪ/) or only three (/ɪnˈvɛn.tɹɪ/).

The word island is six letters long; the s has never been pronounced but was added under the influence of isle.

The word about signed in American Sign Language.
  1. The smallest unit of language which has a particular meaning and can be expressed by itself; the smallest discrete, meaningful unit of language. (contrast morpheme.) [from 10th c.]
    • 1897, Ouida, “The New Woman”, in An Altruist and Four Essays, page 239:
      But every word, whether written or spoken, which urges the woman to antagonism against the man, every word which is written or spoken to try and make of her a hybrid, self-contained opponent of men, makes a rift in the lute to which the world looks for its sweetest music.
    • 1986, David Barrat, Media Sociology, ISBN 041505110X, page 112:
      The word, whether written or spoken, does not look like or sound like its meaning — it does not resemble its signified. We only connect the two because we have learnt the code — language. Without such knowledge, 'Maggie' would just be a meaningless pattern of shapes or sounds.
    • 2009, Jack Fitzgerald, Viva La Evolucin, ISBN 055719833X, page 233:
      Brian and Abby signed the word clothing, in which the thumbs brush down the chest as though something is hanging there. They both spoke the word clothing. Brian then signed the word for change, []
    • 2013 June 14, Sam Leith, “Where the profound meets the profane”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 1, page 37:
      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.
    Synonyms: vocable
    1. The smallest discrete unit of spoken language which has a particular meaning, composed of one or more phonemes and one or more morphemes.
      • 1894, Alex. R. Mackwen, “The Samaritan Passover”, in Littell's Living Age, volume 1, number 6:
        Then all was silent save the voice of the high priest, whose words grew louder and louder, []
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
        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.
    2. The smallest discrete unit of written language which has a particular meaning, composed of one or more letters or symbols and one or more morphemes.
      • 1594, William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, act 2, scene 2:
        Polonius: What do you read, my lord?
        Hamlet: Words, words, words.
      • 2003, Jan Furman, Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon: A Casebook, ISBN 0195146352, page 194:
        The name was a confused gift of love from her father, who could not read the word but picked it out of the Bible for its visual shape, []
      • 2009, Stanislas Dehaene, Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read, ISBN 1101152400:
        Well-meaning academics even introduced spelling absurdities such as the “s” in the word “island,” a misguided Renaissance attempt to restore the etymology of the [unrelated] Latin word insula.
    3. A discrete, meaningful unit of language which is approved by an authority or a native speaker (compare non-word).
      • 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.
  2. Something which is like such a unit of language:
    1. A sequence of letters or characters, or sounds, which is considered as a discrete entity, though it does not necessarily belong to a language or have a meaning.
      • 1974, Thinking Goes to School: Piaget's Theory in Practice, ISBN 0199839077, page 183:
        In still another variation, the nonsense word is presented and the teacher asks, "What sound was in the beginning of the word?" "In the middle?" and so on. The child should always respond with the phoneme; he should not use letter labels.
      • 2003, How To Do Everything with Your Tablet PC, ISBN 0072227710, page 278:
        I wrote a nonsense word, "umbalooie," in the Input Panel's Writing Pad. Input Panel converted it to "cembalos" and displayed it in the Text Preview pane.
      • 2006, Scribal Habits and Theological Influences in the Apocalypse, ISBN 3161491122, page 141:
        Here the scribe has dropped the με from καθημενος, thereby creating the nonsense word καθηνος.
      • 2013, The Cognitive Neuropsychology of Language, ISBN 1317859979, page 91:
        If M. V. has sustained impairment to a phonological output process common to reading and repetition, we might anticipate that her mispronunciations will partially reflect the underlying phonemic form of the nonsense word.
    2. (telegraphy) A unit of text equivalent to five characters and one space. [from 19th c.]
    3. (computing) A fixed-size group of bits handled as a unit by a machine (on many 16-bit machines, 16 bits or two bytes). [from 20th c.]
    4. (computer science) A finite string which is not a command or operator. [from 20th or 21st c.]
    5. (group theory) A group element, expressed as a product of group elements.
  3. The fact or act of speaking, as opposed to taking 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 September 8, Richard Williams, The Guardian:
      As they fell apart against Austria, England badly needed someone capable of leading by word and example.
  4. (now rare outside certain phrases) Something which has been said; a comment, utterance; speech. [from 10th c.]
    • 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.
    • (Can we date this quote?), Alfred Tennyson, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      She said; but at the happy word "he lives", / My father stooped, re-fathered, o'er my wound.
    • (Can we date this quote?), Charles Dickens, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      There is only one other point on which I offer a word of remark.
    • 1945 April 1, Sebastian Haffner, The Observer:
      "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_year_published=2012, page 126:
      Despite appearances to the contrary [...] dragomans stuck rigidly to their brief, which was not to translate the Sultan's words, but his word.
    • 2011, John Lehew (senior), The Encouragement of Peter, ISBN 1615074708, page 108:
      In what sense is God's Word living? No other word, whether written or spoken, has the power that the Bible has to change lives.
  5. (obsolete outside certain phrases) A watchword or rallying cry, a verbal signal (even when consisting of multiple words).
    • 1592, William Shakespeare, Richard III:
      Our ancient word of courage, fair Saint George, inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons!
    • (Can we date this quote?), John Fletcher and William Rowley, The Maid in the Mill, published 1647, scene 3:
      I have the word : sentinel, do thou stand; []
  6. (obsolete) A proverb or motto.
    • 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.
    • 1599, Ben Jonson, Every Man out of His Humour:
      Let the word be 'Not without mustard'. Your crest is very rare, sir.
    • 1646, Joseph Hall, The Balm of Gilead:
      The old word is, 'What the eye views not, the heart rues not.'
  7. News; tidings (used without an article). [from 10th c.]
    Have you had any word from John yet?
  8. An order; a request or instruction; an expression of will. [from 10th c.]
    He sent word that we should strike camp before winter.
    Don't fire till I give the word
    Their mother's word was law.
  9. A promise; an oath or guarantee. [from 10th c.]
    I give you my word that I will be there on time.
    Synonyms: promise
  10. A brief discussion or conversation. [from 15th c.]
    Can I have a word with you?
  11. (in the plural) See words.
    There had been words between him and the secretary about the outcome of the meeting.
  12. (theology, sometimes Word) Communication from God; the message of the Christian gospel; the Bible, Scripture. [from 10th c.]
    Her parents had lived in Botswana, spreading the word among the tribespeople.
    Synonyms: word of God, Bible
  13. (theology, sometimes Word) Logos, 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.
    Synonyms: God, Logos
Usage notesEdit

In English and other languages with a tradition of space-delimited writing, 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.

In 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 Word (computing) for a full explanation.


See also Wikisaurus:word.



word (third-person singular simple present words, present participle wording, simple past and past participle worded)

  1. (transitive) To say or write (something) using particular words; to phrase (something).
    I’m not sure how to word this letter to the council.
    Synonyms: express, phrase, put into words, state
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To flatter with words, to cajole.
    • 1607, William Shakespeare, Anthony and Cleopatra, act 5, scene 2:
      He words me, girls, he words me, that I should not / be noble to myself.
  3. (transitive) To ply or overpower with words.
    • 1621 November 30, James Howell, letter to Francis Bacon, from Turin:
      [] if one were to be worded to death, Italian is the fittest Language [for that task]
    • 1829 April 1, “Webster's Dictionary”, in The North American Review, volume 28, page 438:
      [] if a man were to be worded to death, or stoned to death by words, the High-Dutch were the fittest [language for that task].
  4. (transitive, rare) To conjure with a word.
    • c. 1645–1715, Robert South, Sermon on Psalm XXXIX. 9:
      Against him [] who could word heaven and earth out of nothing, and can when he pleases word them into nothing again.
    • 1994, “Liminal Postmodernisms”, in Postmodern Studies, volume 8, page 162:
      "Postcolonialism" might well be another linguistic construct, desperately begging for a referent that will never show up, simply because it never existed on its own and was literally worded into existence by the very term that pretends to be born from it.
    • 2013, Carla Mae Streeter, Foundations of Spirituality: The Human and the Holy, ISBN 0814680712, page 92:
      The being of each person is worded into existence in the Word, []
  5. (intransitive, archaic) To speak, to use words; to converse, to discourse.
    • 1818, John Keats, Hyperion:
      Thus wording timidly among the fierce: / 'O Father, I am here the simplest voice, [] '



  1. (slang, African American Vernacular) Truth, indeed, that is the truth! The shortened form of the statement "My word is my bond."
    "Yo, that movie was epic!" / "Word?" ("You speak the truth?") / "Word." ("I speak the truth.")
  2. (slang, emphatic, stereotypically, African American Vernacular) 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! [] "

Derived termsEdit


See alsoEdit

Etymology 2Edit

Variant of worth (to become, turn into, grow, get), from Middle English worthen, from Old English weorþan (to turn into, become, grow), from Proto-Germanic *werþaną (to turn, turn into, become). More at worth (verb).



  1. Alternative form of worth (to become).


Most common English words before 1923 in Project Gutenberg: does · Gutenberg · best · #245: word · light · felt · since




From Dutch worden, from Middle Dutch werden, from Old Dutch werthan, from Proto-Germanic *werþaną.


word (present word, present participle wordende, past participle geword)

  1. Indicates that something is in a changing state
    Ek het ryk geword.
    I became rich.
    Ek word ryk.
    I am becoming rich.
    Sy word beter.
    She is getting better.
  2. Forms the present passive voice when followed by a past participle
    Die kat word gevoer.
    The cat is being fed.

Usage notesEdit

  • The verb has a dated or archaic preterite werd: Die kat werd gevoer. (“The cat was fed.”) In contemporary Afrikaans the perfect is virtually invariably used instead: Die kat is gevoer.





  1. first-person singular present indicative of worden
  2. imperative of worden

Old EnglishEdit

Alternative formsEdit


From Proto-Germanic *wurdą, from Proto-Indo-European *werdʰo- (word), from Proto-Indo-European *wer- (speak); cognate with Old Frisian word, Old Saxon word, Old Dutch wort (Dutch woord), Old High German wort (German Wort), Old Norse orð (Icelandic orð, Swedish ord), Gothic 𐍅𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌳 (waurd). The Proto-Indo-European root is also the source of Latin verbum, Lithuanian vardas, and, more distantly, of Ancient Greek εἴρω (eírō, I say) and Old Slavonic ротити сѧ (rotiti sę, to swear) (Russian ротиться (rotitʹsja, to vow)).



word n (nominative plural word)

  1. word
  2. speech, utterance, statement
  3. (grammar) verb
  4. news, information, rumour
  5. command, request


Old SaxonEdit


From Proto-Germanic *wurdą, from Proto-Indo-European *werdʰo- (word). Compare Old English and Old Frisian word, Old High German wort, Old Norse orð.



word n

  1. word