Definition of world in English:

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Pronunciation: /wərld/


1 (usually the world) The earth, together with all of its countries, peoples, and natural features: he was doing his bit to save the world
More example sentences
  • The sea connotes what the land is not, yet together they form the world's surfaces.
  • They've sold three million albums, toured all over the world and have been together for almost a decade.
  • The couple travelled the world together three years ago and fell in love with Asia.
earth, globe, planet, sphere
1.1 (the world) All of the people, societies, and institutions on the earth: [as modifier]: world affairs
More example sentences
  • On a more serious note, it would appear that the world as a whole is sinking deeper into poverty.
  • It's a nice thought that there's someone who loves you, even when you think the whole world hates you.
  • They sometimes wonder why the rest of the world hates them so much.
everyone, everybody, people, mankind, humankind, humanity, the (general) public, the population, the populace, all and sundry, ‘every Tom, Dick, and Harry’
1.2 [as modifier] Denoting one of the most important or influential people or things of its class: they had been brought up to regard France as a world power
More example sentences
  • They are the world champions and a class side, but if they are not quite on their game, that is when you can get at them.
  • There are tournaments to play that move you up the world rankings and that's more important now.
  • I hope I can go as far as reaching the world number one, but I realize it requires hard work.
1.3Another planet like the earth: the possibility of life on other worlds
More example sentences
  • Nevertheless, of all the worlds in our solar system, Mars is most like Earth.
  • His ideas on cosmology are quite remarkable for he not only argued for a moving Earth, but he also argued for an infinite universe containing other stars like the Sun and other worlds like the Earth.
  • It showed the planets as worlds - some greater, some less, than our earth - but all much vaster than the earth as she had been regarded in ancient times.
planet, moon, star, heavenly body, orb
1.4The material universe or all that exists; everything.
Example sentences
  • The living entity is eternal, and he existed before the creation of this material world.
  • Being a father is not just about contact: the child needs financial security in this material world.
  • Our protagonist is against this obsession with the material world, but he is haunted by it.
2A part or aspect of human life or of the natural features of the earth, in particular.
Example sentences
  • When some vital aspect of the natural world is neglected, nature takes its revenge.
  • Clearly the Moon affects both the human and the natural world in diverse ways.
  • He has a great appetite for, and capacity to adopt to the changes that are a feature of today's world.
2.1A region or group of countries: the English-speaking world
More example sentences
  • By the western part of the Arabic world we mean the regions comprising mainly North Africa and Spain.
  • The richest country in the industrialised world will continue to have some of the worst pockets of poverty.
  • Several countries in the developing world continue to invite him to help train their own surgeons.
2.2A period of history: the ancient world
More example sentences
  • I sometimes imagine that I see certain parallels between modern Aotearoa and the historical worlds of that other boot-shaped nation, Italy.
  • In the ancient and classical worlds, capital tended to be drawn into cities from the surrounding regions, so that they could become wealthier even in the absence of economic growth.
  • As the title suggests, Ferguson believes that the British Empire shaped the modern world.
2.3A group of living things: the animal world
More example sentences
  • Lying is one of the most human of traits that really distinguishes us from the rest of the animal world.
  • Our folklore and arts and crafts reflect our love and reverence for the animal world.
  • On examination, it reveals a coded significance, uniting the worlds of animals, birds, humans and demigods, proposing itself as an image of the universe.
2.4The people, places, and activities to do with a particular thing: they were a legend in the world of British theater
More example sentences
  • He still characterises himself as having a foot in both the stand-up and theatre worlds and is currently working with Murphy on putative comic projects.
  • They're all hot, contemporary artists who are taking the art world by storm.
  • Beaufort inhabited the scientific world dominated by the chronometer invented by John Harrison.
sphere, society, circle, arena, milieu, province, domain, orbit, preserve, realm, field, discipline, area, sector
2.5Human and social interaction: he has almost completely withdrawn from the world how inexperienced she is in the ways of the world
More example sentences
  • Autism cuts off its sufferers from the world by impairing social skills and imaginative development.
  • These are serious blows to our sense of who we are, what we expect of the world and of our interactions with others.
  • I sit here and all my interaction with the world goes fuzzy as if I am falling asleep.
society, material things, secular interests, temporal concerns, earthly concerns
2.6Average, respectable, or fashionable people or their customs or opinions.
2.7 (one's world) A person’s life and activities: he felt his whole world had collapsed
More example sentences
  • She drove slowly because the sudden collapse of her whole world was affecting the steadiness of her hands.
  • She's the center of his whole world.
  • My whole world has fallen apart and left me feeling hopeless and depressed.
2.8Everything that exists outside oneself.
Example sentences
  • I've hit that point that comes during study, when the outside world ceases to exist.
  • This is perfect for me as I don't want to exist in this outside world yet.
  • We bought a four-bedroom house and seemed to the outside world to have everything we wanted.
2.9 [in singular] A stage of human life, either mortal or after death: in this world and the next
More example sentences
  • Then the oxygen machine arrived, the pain medications increased, and my mother slipped out of this world and into the next.
  • I know who I am, and I know that I can only be myself, because that is the only thing I will carry out of this world, my soul.
  • This is an inspiring talk that will help us to establish our own priorities for this world and the next.
2.10Secular interests and affairs: parents are not viewed as the primary educators of their own children, either in the world or in the church
More example sentences
  • There is a primary difference between the material world and the spiritual dimension.
  • People who see the world in terms of evil and sin will tend to devalue the material world.
  • The militantly secular world is also keenly alert to the challenge of the Passion.



be not long for this world

Have only a short time to live.
Example sentences
  • I'm going to need a new chair for the coming season - my old one, made of metal tubing, has developed an alarming creak over the winter and is not long for this world, I fear.
  • In general, my tastes in television are a reliable guide to what's about to get cancelled - if I like it, it is not long for this world.
  • One can only assume that the 95-year old is not long for this world.

the best of both (or all possible) worlds

The benefits of widely differing situations, enjoyed at the same time.
Example sentences
  • Situated not far from the beach you can enjoy the best of both worlds in this relaxed but upmarket centre.
  • Instead, they frequently enjoy the best of both worlds.
  • This type of work/life situation can be the best of both worlds - challenging work and plenty of support at home.

bring someone into the world

Give birth to or assist at the birth of someone.
Example sentences
  • Even at an early age I wondered why children are routinely named after their fathers, especially when the job of bringing them into the world is solely the responsibility of the mother.
  • She managed to be both gentle and authoritative and I trusted her to bring you into the world.
  • My poor mother had died bringing me into the world.

come into the world

Be born.
Example sentences
  • Forty minutes after Mia had come into the world, her identical twin sister Mona was born.
  • Screaming lustily, apparently as healthy as his sister despite the awkward way he came into the world, the second child was born.
  • No one wants to see their child undergo an operation and Louise has already had a tough time coming into the world.

come up (or go down) in the world

Rise (or drop) in status, especially by becoming richer (or poorer).
Example sentences
  • This neighborhood is going through a transition, and it is coming up in the world, and that fire station will only add to the quality of life for the community.
  • Lincoln is a city that's come up in the world since last I gave it close inspection, in my RAF days forty years ago.
  • He has had to sell his flat in Mayfair because of his bankruptcy, ‘but he has a new flat in Mayfair for his wife and daughter so he's hardly gone down in the world.’

in the world

Used for emphasis in questions, especially to express astonishment or disbelief: why in the world did you not reveal yourself sooner?
More example sentences
  • Why in the world is this happening to me?
  • What in the world was going on in her mind?

look for all the world like

Look precisely like (used for emphasis): fossil imprints that look for all the world like motorcycle tracks
More example sentences
  • England and Germany looked for all the world like two teams competing to avoid the title of worst team in their section.
  • She looks for all the world like a little girl who's come to ask my son to play.
  • When Nadege and I passed, pushing Leyla in a stroller, looking for all the world like a very mismatched mixed-race couple with child, he smiled instinctively at the pretty baby.

man (or woman) of the world

A person who is experienced in the ways of sophisticated society.
Example sentences
  • On the contrary, he was a man of the world, an experienced soldier, widely travelled, with close contacts with many of the leading men of affairs, both in his own city and elsewhere.
  • What a great example Kelly is to impressionable young women of the world.
  • Born in Singapore, growing up in East London and now based in Los Angeles, Clarisse is a woman of the world.

not do something for the world

Not do something whatever the inducement: I wouldn’t miss it for the world
More example sentences
  • Restructure or decline… A fossil fuel-based, automobile centered and throwaway economic model will not work for the world.
  • This will be the fight of our lives, but I wouldn't miss it for the world.
  • "I wouldn't do it for the world," Aurora declared.

out of this world

informal Extremely enjoyable or impressive: an herb and lemon dressing that’s out of this world
More example sentences
  • Johnson's guitar solo is out of this world - it actually sounds like lead and rhythm playing together, and a brass section.
  • It is really out of this world with a fabulous infrastructure, it's very safe and clean.
  • The regular baguettes have a great crust, a medium crumb and lots of taste, and the sourdough baguettes are out of this world for serving with cheese.

see the world

Travel widely and gain wide experience.
Example sentences
  • And it was after this walking tour that he decided he wanted to travel some more and see the world.
  • We were young, excited about travel and seeing the world.
  • The nanny was a woman in her fifties who decided to go travel and see the world with the rest of her life.

think the world of

Have a very high regard for (someone): I thought the world of my father
More example sentences
  • She thought the world of all the children she taught over the years.
  • The boy thinks the world of Emilio, appreciating the kind and attentive way he treats him and his mom.
  • And you also have three loving children who think the world of you so please don't get upset- or angry- over the confrontation this afternoon.

the world, the flesh, and the devil

All forms of temptation to sin.
Example sentences
  • A rich understanding of the roles of God, the world, the flesh, and the devil in suffering will aid counselors in determining the best responses to their clients' pain.
  • The daily, hourly conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil, shall at length be at an end: the enemy shall be bound; the warfare shall be over; the wicked shall at last cease from troubling; the weary shall at length be at rest.
  • In other words, the world, the flesh, and the devil are formidable obstacles to responding to the light and grace that God gives.

a (or the) world of

A very great deal of: there’s a world of difference between being alone and being lonely
More example sentences
  • A simple nod, a raise of the hand or a flash of headlights can make the world of difference.
  • Having the right pair to suit your feet and your activity can make the world of difference.
  • I made good use of the pool and it made the world of difference to me and the baby.
huge amount, good deal, great deal, abundance, wealth, profusion, mountain
informal heap, lot, load, ton

(all) the world over

Everywhere on the earth.
Example sentences
  • This is a lovely seasonal opportunity to give and it brings great joy to deprived children the world over.
  • For one, its gorgeous coloring makes it a favorite of snake and reptile collectors the world over.
  • The water situation can be related, not only to Australia in general, but also to the world over.

worlds apart

Very different or distant.
Example sentences
  • Not just their locations make these two books worlds apart, they are different in style and structure too.
  • These cousins are brought up worlds apart and have enormous differences, but also enormous similarities.
  • The exhibition was staged across two very different urban sites, which although linked by a short bus ride are worlds apart in terms of economic and social infrastructure.


Old English w(e)oruld, from a Germanic compound meaning 'age of man'; related to Dutch wereld and German Welt.

  • The ancient root of world meant ‘age or life of man’. The first part is the same as were- in werewolf ( see wolf)—it means ‘man’—and the second part is related to old. The Anglo-Saxons first used world to mean ‘human existence, life on earth’ as opposed to future life in heaven or hell. America was first called the New World in 1555, and Europe, Asia, and Africa the Old World at the end of that century. Olde worlde is a ‘fake’ antiquated spelling for old-fashioned things intended to be quaint and attractive, and dates only from the 1920s. The developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America were initially known as the Third World in the 1950s by French writers who used tiers monde, ‘third world’, to distinguish the developing countries from the capitalist and Communist blocs. The first use in English came in 1963. The best of all worlds or of all possible worlds is from Candide (1759) by the French writer Voltaire. It is a translation of a statement by the ever-optimistic Pangloss, ‘Everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds’. The character of Pangloss, who remained constantly cheerful despite all the disasters that happened to him and his travelling companions, is a satire on the views of the German philosopher Leibniz, who believed this philosophy. See also optimism, oyster, whim, wife

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: world

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