Definition of world in English:

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Pronunciation: /wəːld/


1 (usually the world) The earth, together with all of its countries and peoples: he was doing his bit to save the world it’s a wonderful 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 and societies on the earth: the whole world hates a Monday
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, each and every one, people, mankind, humankind, humanity, people everywhere, the whole world, the world at large, the public, the general public, the population, the populace, all and sundry, every mother's son, {every Tom, Dick, and Harry}, every man jack
1.2 [as modifier] Denoting one of the most important people or things of their class: a world superstar
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.
1.3 (one's world) One’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.
2A particular 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.
2.1A particular 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.
2.2A particular 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.
2.3All that relates to a particular sphere of activity: they were a legend in the world of British theatre the news shocked the football world
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, territory, orbit, preserve, realm, field, discipline, area, department, sector, section, group, division
3 (the world) Human and social interaction: he has almost completely withdrawn from 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, high society;
secular interests, temporal concerns, earthly concerns;
human existence
3.1Secular or material matters as opposed to spiritual ones: 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.
3.2A 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.
4Another 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, satellite, moon, star, heavenly body, orb



be not long for this world

Have only a short time to live: these people either radiate incredible vitality or else complain that they’re not long for this world
More 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: I had the best of both worlds, since I worked as an ordinary member of the crew but fed with the officers
More 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 or wealth: he’s come up in the world since he went to work for them a street that had once been well heeled but had gone down in the world
More 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 an ideal (or a perfect) world

Used to express that something is highly desirable but not likely to become a reality: in an ideal world, everyone would pay off their monthly credit card bills on time
More example sentences
  • In an ideal world, all dance teachers would advocate healthy work habits.
  • In an ideal world, most new parents would rather stay at home, for the baby's first year at least, but financial considerations force them back to work.
  • In an ideal world, we would not need any additional aids to facilitate the training of our horses other than good tack and a good surface.

in a world of one's own

Concerned with one’s own thoughts and not aware of what is happening around one: he is in a world of his own and is frequently carried away by his own flights of fancy
More example sentences
  • There is no empathy with the public, for they live in a world of their own.
  • Like all fantasists, Terence Cooper lived in a world of his own.
  • The referee appeared to be in a world of his own.

in the world

Used to express astonishment or disbelief in questions: 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: a 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: 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 and his wife

British Everybody: now all the world and his wife seems to have heard of them
More example sentences
  • Mrs Smith said: ‘That parrot would tell the world and his wife what his name is.’
  • I want the world and his wife to know what happened to my daughter.
  • Our little mini apartment at the Beach House hotel is right on the boardwalk where the world and his wife, their babies and assorted pets are jogging.

a world away from

Completely different from: her thoughtful manner is a world away from brash Alex
More example sentences
  • The bubbly decor, playful graphics, and bright colours seemed so very modern, and a world away from archetypal greasy spoon cafes.
  • The job was a world away from his work at the time, as a child psychiatrist.
  • This is the new politics, a world away from old Westminster.

the world, the flesh, and the devil

All forms of temptation to sin: Rossetti struggled with these words in her desire to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil
More 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 a bit of country air will do her the world of good
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, vast amount, enormous amount, good deal, great deal, abundance, wealth, profusion, mountain, immensity;
many, much, plenty, reams
informal heap, pile, lot, load, stack, ton, masses
British informal shedload, lashings
Australian/New Zealand informal swag

(all) the world over

Everywhere on the earth: laughter is the same language the world over
More 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: our daughter’s school is worlds apart from school as I knew it in the 1960s
More 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

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