Definition of word in English:

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Pronunciation: /wərd/


1A single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed.
Example sentences
  • He attempted to say a few things, but none of the noises actually turned into words let alone sentences.
  • What kind of a person even gives that sort of nonsense the time of day, let alone writes six-hundred-odd words about it?
  • In her short time in this organized hell, Cassie understood the meaning of the word alone.
term, name, expression, designation, locution, vocable
formal appellation
1.1A single distinct conceptual unit of language, comprising inflected and variant forms.
Example sentences
  • He is a knowledge worker in all senses of the word and carries a message everyone involved in best practise in education should hear.
  • All I will say is that this movie was true in the basic sense of the word.
1.2 (usually words) Something that someone says or writes; a remark or piece of information: his grandfather’s words had been meant kindly a word of warning
More example sentences
  • Nancy spoke specifically about the words offered by the senior minister at her church.
  • The Ministry of Justice subsequently released a statement condemning the words of Grigorov.
  • She later claimed that the press had distorted her words and repudiated the statement.
remark, comment, observation, statement, utterance, pronouncement
1.3Speech as distinct from action: he conforms in word and deed to the values of a society that he rejects
More example sentences
  • They reclaim a union between word and deed, utterance and action.
  • The crucial distinction between the fifties and sixties lay in word, not in deed.
  • But our past is fraught with his infidelity in word, in deed and most likely in his heart and mind.
1.4 [with negative] (a word) Even the smallest amount of something spoken or written: don’t believe a word of it
More example sentences
  • No matter how many experts you throw at them, they won't believe a word spoken by them.
  • Steve's unchanged expression showed that he didn't believe a word Miles had just spoken.
  • The people who know me well don't believe a word of what is written by the media.
1.5 (one's word) A person’s account of the truth, especially when it differs from that of another person: in court it would have been his word against mine
More example sentences
  • She was condemned on her word alone without proof and lacked defense counsel.
  • Sex offences can be difficult to prove or disprove as it often comes down to one person's word against the other's.
  • It's the attendant's word against that of a patient who can only communicate using ACC.
1.6 (one's word) A promise or assurance: everything will be taken care of—you have my word
More example sentences
  • We can only do our best to hold the administration to its word.
  • When the waitress arrives, Beanie's mother remains true to her word and orders only coffee.
  • It is important that they be so, for science needs good communicators whose word can be trusted.
1.7 (words) The text or spoken part of a play, opera, or other performed piece; a script: he had to learn his words
More example sentences
  • What the audience sees and hears in the film is the first time an actor has performed and uttered those words.
  • When you see the casting tapes first it is weird because you are watching people speaking your words against a white plain background.
  • Performed without words, it is a deeply elemental, emotive and darkly comic piece of theatre.
script, lyrics, libretto
1.8 (words) Angry talk: her father would have had words with her about that
More example sentences
  • After receiving a complaint we went down and had words with them.
  • When we got into a scuffle he had words with the both of us, but said nothing about the penalties he had given away.
  • I also had words with my manager, as he had changed the roster for next week without my consultation.
1.9A message; news: I was afraid to leave Washington in case there was word from the office
More example sentences
  • Mercury received word from Intel last week that the engineering firm is wanted on the job immediately.
  • You should know I live in a small community and that word travels fast around here.
  • His father said he passed word from a dispatcher to his son that they should stay low and that firefighters were working their way up.
1.10A command, password, or motto: someone gave me the word to start playing
More example sentences
  • He gave her directions onto a narrow winding road, and told her to drive down it until he gave her the word to stop.
instruction, order, command;
signal, prompt, cue, tip-off
informal go-ahead, thumbs up, green light
command, order, decree, edict;
bidding, will
1.11A basic unit of data in a computer, typically 16 or 32 bits long.


[with object]
Choose and use particular words in order to say or write (something): he words his request in a particularly ironic way (as adjective, with submodifier worded) a strongly worded letter of protest
More example sentences
  • A strongly worded letter is to be sent to the county council asking for an explanation.
  • I ask the nurse for a scribbling pad and a pen and write out a carefully worded resignation.
  • We worded a letter in such a way that it was OK for them to let our citizens out.
phrase, express, put, couch, frame, formulate, style;
say, utter


Used to express agreement: “That Jay is one dangerous character.” “Word.”



at a word

As soon as requested: ready to leave again at a word
More example sentences
  • He ordered a cut-purse caught in the act to be hanged without a trial at a word from his royal mouth.’
  • Her favourites were lanterns that could come alive or die at a word, and an arrow that would hit whatever you wanted to hit, no matter how bad your aim was.
  • There was no seam or opening to be found on the box, yet at a word from Loarela, the top suddenly was no longer just a painting of a vortex, but an actual pit of darkness.

be as good as one's word

Do what one has promised to do.
Example sentences
  • Our pilot, Dan, a young clean-cut Melburnian, promises us a spectacular trip and he is as good as his word.
  • He wrote to my wife, Jeanette, while I was in prison, reassuring her that he would look after me, and he was as good as his word.
  • Last week the Town Clerk was as good as his word when a total of 25 lime trees were put in specially prepared beds along the avenue.

break one's word

Fail to do what one has promised.
Example sentences
  • She gave me no reason for what she asked me to do, but I promised and I won't break my word.
  • If journalists break their word when convenient, virtually no one in government will take the risk of revealing official wrongdoing.
  • Whatever has come before, we now have only two options: to keep our word, or to break our word.

have a word

Speak briefly to someone: I’ll just have a word with him
More example sentences
  • But I'll be having a word with him because he put us under pressure.
  • I will be having a word with the board to see whether we can maybe add one or two bodies to see if we can bolster things up a bit.
  • I think he's having a word with the chairman in the next couple of weeks, and then I'll take it from there.

in other words

Expressed in a different way; that is to say.
Example sentences
  • There is a difference, in other words, between tax minimisation and tax evasion.
  • There is no such thing, in other words, as a stimulus which produces the same emotional response in everyone.
  • Galloway, by contrast, was his usual self: in other words, a blustering demagogue.

in so many words

[often with negative] In the way mentioned: I haven’t told him in so many words, but he’d understand
More example sentences
  • He not only called me a liar but also said, in so many words, ‘I'm alone this weekend and bored so I thought I'd ask you all out.’
  • ‘If I don't win a major,’ the player will say in so many words, ‘I'll still have had a rewarding career.’
  • I flipped through the magazine and an article says, in so many words, that being interested in celebrities is good for you.

in a word

Example sentences
  • And the men in that part of the world are short, stocky and hairy - in a word, not very handsome.
  • The back-to-back sets to follow are both, in a word, stellar.
  • I like to think of listening to these three discs as an opportunity for true quality time with a true quality band: in a word, it's intimacy.
briefly, to be brief, in short, in a nutshell, to come to the point, to cut a long story short, not to put too fine a point on it;
to sum up, to summarize, in summary

keep one's word

Do what one has promised.
Example sentences
  • Carole found out what was going on and almost left him, but Merritt promised to quit and kept his word after the Vegas fight.
  • It's just about keeping your word and not promising more than you can do.
  • They're just saying you're a low swine who'd rather play word games than keep your word.

a man/woman of his/her word

A person who keeps their promises.
Example sentences
  • A man of his word, he at last kept the promise he'd made to his wife in 1986 - the year they bought a shingled cottage.
  • He's a man of his word, and after Tuesday we will have a clearer indication.
  • She described him as a man of his word and said they should trust reassurances he's made about any future Supreme Court appointments.

(on/upon) my word

An exclamation of surprise or emphasis: my word, you were here quickly!
More example sentences
  • Oh my word, masterful execution there by the ladies, Johnny, just take us through the replay there!
  • He was up there to be shot at and, my word, was he shot!
  • Many thanks to all (and my word, there were a lot of you!) who gave Rebecca a Christmas present.

of few words

Taciturn: he’s a man of few words
More example sentences
  • Kate seems a woman of few words, but this reticence is more than made up for by the reminiscences of her friend and husband.
  • The inescapable feeling that here was someone who was often silent, a man of few words, few thoughts, who simply existed.
  • A quiet, laid-back Kentuckian of few words, Gullett bristles at the attention and praise.

put something into words

Express something in speech or writing: he felt a vague disappointment which he couldn’t put into words
More example sentences
  • People with Huntington's often have difficulty putting thoughts into words and slur their speech.
  • In the brutalized area one kilometer to the south, a weeping community leader put that sadness into words of disbelief.
  • Authors put their thoughts into words for the whole community to see and critique.

put words into someone's mouth

Falsely or inaccurately report what someone has said.
Example sentences
  • I've been critical of people or groups of people on my website, but in the case of non-public figures, I never named names or put words into their mouth.
  • Instead of putting words into the president's mouth in order to look smart, journalists ought to try looking up what he said.
  • Well, there goes one journalist's attempt to put words into someone's mouth.
13.1Prompt or encourage someone to say something that they may not otherwise have said.
Example sentences
  • They'll temper that with the suggestion that the mother put words into the boy 's mouth to come up with this story.
  • My apologies if I seemed to be putting words into your mouth.
  • I didn't say that so don't go putting words into my mouth.

take someone at their word

Interpret a person’s words literally or exactly, especially by believing them or doing as they suggest.
Example sentences
  • I also believe that we would do well to take them at their word.
  • I'm only sorry that we didn't go public at the time… we took them at their word, but nothing has been done and four more years have passed.
  • When clubs begged us two years ago to do whatever was needed to get fixtures played in one calendar year we took them at their word.

take the words out of someone's mouth

Say what someone else was about to say.
Example sentences
  • You can only mumble ‘You took the words out of my mouth… ‘quietly while the boss praises them.’
  • ‘You took the words out of my mouth,’ Milton smiled.
  • Mr Carter's speech took the words out of my mouth.

take someone's word (for it)

Believe what someone says or writes without checking for oneself.
Example sentences
  • Anyway, we will take your word for it and believe you guys.
  • Don't take our word for it, check the Water Survey of Canada's factual database.
  • I had sent him a letter to say don't take my word for it - check with this list of other musicians.

too —— for words

informal Extremely ——: going around by the road was too tedious for words
More example sentences
  • I don't believe these people have the air of 1962 about them, they are extremely modern hipsters, too cool for words.
  • Why waste the time on the sort of gathering you've told me is too tedious for words?
  • First of all a fearless, infallible hero pitted against a bunch of hoodlums and brutal, power-crazy politicians is too stereotypical for words.

waste words

1Talk in vain.
Example sentences
  • Doyle wasn't a man of many words, and I'd never seen any point in wasting words, so we didn't talk until the bell rang.
  • Can I asked what happened or would I just be wasting words?
  • It is refreshing to listen to someone who never wastes words.
2Talk at length.
Example sentences
  • No need to waste words here: Not everyone in the gulag was a ‘prisoner of conscience ‘…
  • Why waste words when simple action will serve just as nicely.
  • He didn't often waste words when he spoke and his talks were always simple, yet highly motivating, as I imagine were his team talks.

the Word (of God)

1The Bible, or a part of it.
Example sentences
  • What does the Word of God warn about replacing Bible Truth with human tradition?
  • The revelation of God is found in the Word of God, the gospel enshrined in the scriptures, and all claims for revelation must be brought back and tested there.
  • The members of that Bible study stood on the authority of the Word of God.
2Jesus Christ (see Logos).
Example sentences
  • For Torrance, too, God's revelation, the Word of God is Jesus Christ.
  • Other positions are more centred on Jesus Christ as the Word of God, who gives his distinctive teaching and example - often very different from the prevailing ethos.
  • Jesus Christ, being the Word made flesh through the divine power of God, is what a real believer should know.

word for word

In exactly the same or, when translated, exactly equivalent words.
Example sentences
  • Sign language is visual, and isn't always translated word for word into English.
  • I wish I could translate the song for you guys word for word, but it would take too much time.
  • It is the same thing you put in your complaint, word for word almost.
verbatim, letter for letter, to the letter;
exactly, faithfully
verbatim, literal, exact, direct, accurate, faithful;
unadulterated, unabridged

word of honor

A solemn promise: I’ll be good to you always, I give you my word of honor
More example sentences
  • I know my duty well, and I give you my solemn word of honor that I will not disappoint you or our people.
  • Just fax us what you want, promising us on word of honor that you are over 18 and these and much more can be yours.
  • Kohl refused, saying he had given his word of honor.

word of mouth

Pronunciation: /ˌwərd əv ˈmouTH/
Spoken language; informal or unofficial discourse.
Example sentences
  • He would like to know how negative word-of-mouth communication affects consumer thoughts about a product.
  • Information in Somalian culture is often communicated by word of mouth and radio is very important in this process.
  • The information is then spread by word of mouth and mobile phone text messages.

the word on the street

informal A rumor or piece of information currently being circulated.
Example sentences
  • The word on the street is that he has lost the political spotlight recently and wants to regain it.
  • ‘The word on the street,’ he grumbled, ‘is that if you buy this equipment you will be pulled over right away.’
  • A good friend of mine writes in to say that the word on the street is that thankfully so far it seems that no students were hurt.

words fail me

Used to express one’s disbelief or dismay.
Example sentences
  • Taking money meant for charity is bad enough, but robbing from the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal - words fail me.
  • Even today, nearly ten years on, I find that words fail me when I try to describe my feelings as the final whistle went and South Africa became world champions.
  • Sometimes, after I read the news, words fail me.

a word to the wise

A hint or brief explanation given, that being all that is required.
Example sentences
  • Here's a word to the wise: it beats an annual return of 5% APR on your cash, and is a sexier investment to boot.
  • Just a word to the wise: Yesterday security at the DNC was confiscating umbrellas, and any bottles of water.
  • Concerns about reliability and validity creep in, and I offer a word to the wise to take their results with a grain of salt.

Phrasal verbs

word up

[as imperative] informal Listen: word up, my brother, you got me high as a kite



Pronunciation: /ˈwərdij/
Example sentences
  • O'Dell wrote it in a fund-raising letter so its veracity and exact wordage are not in doubt.
  • He was once commissioned to write a history of West Indies cricket, but got so immersed in the research that he overran the wordage by several thousand.
  • It's not that I don't have the vocabulary - I'm actually pretty proud of my wordage - but I'm just not adept at using those words effectively.


Pronunciation: /ˈwərdləslē/
Example sentences
  • He took the shovel from me and wordlessly filled the hole in, even spread some snow overtop to make it look undisturbed.
  • Afterwards he went around, palm up, wordlessly asking for something, anything.
  • Nearby, a woman and her daughter clasped each other, crying wordlessly.


Pronunciation: /ˈwərdləsnəs/
Example sentences
  • My problem is that the bouts of wordlessness are getting more frequent, and it leaves me wondering if it will it be worth carrying on.
  • One can never really write about suffering; and death, by definition, takes us into the realm of wordlessness.
  • First, the wordlessness of the film clips has an extraordinary, incalculable effect.


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch woord and German Wort, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin verbum 'word'.

  • Word is ultimately related to Latin verbum, the source of verb (Late Middle English), proverb (Middle English) the ‘pro’ here having the sense ‘put forth’, and verbal (Late Middle English). ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’ are the first words of the Gospel of John, which continues: ‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth.’ To eat your words is first found in a 1571 translation of a work by the French Protestant theologian John Calvin: ‘God eateth not his word when he hath once spoken.’ A word in your ear is of similar vintage, coming from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing: ‘Come you hither sirra, a word in your ear, sir’. People sometimes say a word to the wise or a word to the wise is enough to imply that only a hint or brief explanation is required. The wording of the first English use, at the start of the 16th century, was ‘Few words may serve the wise’, although the concept was expressed much earlier than that in the Latin saying verbum sapienti sat est, sometimes shortened to verb sap.

Words that rhyme with word

absurd, bird, Byrd, curd, engird, gird, Heard, herd, Kurd, misheard, nerd, overheard, reheard, third, undergird, undeterred, unheard, unstirred

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: word

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