guard·​ian ˈgär-dē-ən How to pronounce guardian (audio)
plural guardians
: someone or something that guards : custodian
The historical society serves as the guardian of the town's traditions.
: someone who has the care of the person or property of another
often, specifically : a person granted legal custody of a minor who is not the person's own biological child
The school sent a letter home to all parents and guardians.
: a superior of a Franciscan monastery
guardianship noun
plural guardianships

Examples of guardian in a Sentence

After the death of her parents, her uncle was appointed as her legal guardian. the state became his guardian when he was put into protective custody
Recent Examples on the Web Drinking water at 1 in 4 California child-care centers tests dangerously high for lead May 18, 2023 If lead levels are exceeded, the bill requires schools or educational agencies to notify parents and guardians, shut down the outlet, and find an alternative source of lead-free drinking water. Dorany Pineda, Los Angeles Times, 16 Sep. 2023 The left sees it as one of the last democratic pillars, a guardian of minority rights. Shira Rubin, Washington Post, 12 Sep. 2023 Ultimately, the grand jury, which Lopatin described as acting as the eyes and ears of the public, recommended that the county assume, by way of new state legislation, oversight of the activities of the special district or decisions by the port’s board, sharing the duty as guardian of San Diego Bay. Jennifer Van Grove, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Aug. 2023 The new rules, which started Aug. 2, do not allow minors to be in the street or any public space without a guardian between midnight and 6 a.m. Liyan Qi, WSJ, 29 Aug. 2023 Wade is also father to daughter Zaya, 16, and sons Zaire, 21, and Xavier, 9, as well as the legal guardian of nephew Dahveon Morris, 21. Gabrielle Rockson, Peoplemag, 30 Aug. 2023 The list can help parents, guardians and community members contribute to an effort. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 22 Aug. 2023 Both parents or guardians must be present with the infant, so keep this in mind when choosing a time. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 22 Aug. 2023 Fishman said the guardian issue was waived because Oher was 18 and his mother consented. Adrian Sainz, Fortune, 18 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'guardian.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English gardein, wardein — more at warden

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of guardian was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near guardian

Cite this Entry

“Guardian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: one that guards : custodian
: one who legally has the care of a person or the property of another

Legal Definition


guard·​ian ˈgär-dē-ən How to pronounce guardian (audio)
: one who has or is entitled or legally appointed to the care and management of the person or property of another compare committee, conservator, curator, receiver, tutor
guardian ad litem \ -​ad-​ˈlī-​təm, -​äd-​ˈlē-​tem \
: a guardian appointed by a court to represent in a particular lawsuit the interests of a minor, a person not yet born, or a person judged incompetent
guardian by nature
: natural guardian in this entry
natural guardian
: a guardian by natural relationship having custody of the person but not the property of a minor

Note: Under common law the father is considered the natural guardian of a child until his death or incapacitation, whereupon the mother becomes the natural guardian. Many states have passed statutes giving both parents equal rights as guardians.

statutory guardian
: a guardian appointed by statutory authority
testamentary guardian
: a person named in a will to serve as a guardian
guardianship noun

More from Merriam-Webster on guardian

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