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 All told, the Space Force has about 8,600 military guardians and about 5,000 civilian guardians. Jon Gertner, New York Times, 8 Nov. 2023 Parents don’t have to be Global Entry members for their kids to get it, but all kids under 18 must have their parent or legal guardian’s permission to apply for Global Entry. Katie Seemann, Travel + Leisure, 7 Nov. 2023 Illinois at the time required people ages 18, 19 or 20 to have parent or guardian authorization. Emily Shapiro, ABC News, 6 Nov. 2023 Attorney Martin Singer has been named the trustee of the sub-trust benefiting Garibaldi, the documents said, and Lisa Marie’s ex-husband, Michael Lockwood, will serve as guardian ad litem for the former couple’s twin daughters. Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times, 4 Nov. 2023 Whereas other tribes believe owls are messengers and are a guardian spirit, per The Pueblo Chieftain. Elizabeth Gamillo, Discover Magazine, 31 Oct. 2023 Combining adventure, a female character and sustainability issues, the film follows the youngest among the guardian clan in an island in danger by its climatic decline. Emiliano De Pablos, Variety, 24 Oct. 2023 Many guardians recklessly spent or embezzled their ward’s assets, while facing little or no consequences. Shannon Toll, The Conversation, 23 Oct. 2023 Most Syrian widows and wives of those missing are left vulnerable to losing their children to their husband’s male relatives – whom Jordanian and Syrian laws recognize as rightful guardians. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, 12 Oct. 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 30 Nov. 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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