stew·​ard·​ship | \ˈstü-ərd-ˌship, ˈstyü-;ˈst(y)u̇rd-\

Definition of stewardship 

1 : the office, duties, and obligations of a steward

2 : the conducting, supervising, or managing of something especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care stewardship of natural resources

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Good Stewardship

When stewardship first appeared in English during the Middle Ages, it functioned as a job description, denoting the office of a steward, or manager of a large household. Over the centuries, its range of reference spread to the oversight of law courts, employee unions, college dining halls, Masonic lodges, and many other organizations. In recent years, the long-established "management" sense of stewardship has evolved a positive meaning, “careful and responsible management.” This sense is commonly found nowadays in contexts such as “stewardship of the environment, the family business,” etc. It also occasionally appears as an adjective in phrases such as “stewardship fundraising" (that is, fundraising aimed at building good relationships with donors in order to keep them loyal).

Examples of stewardship in a Sentence

generally the dean left the day-to-day stewardship of the college to the assistant dean she believes that stewardship of the environment is everyone's responsibility

Recent Examples on the Web

Golf courses are not known for their environmental stewardship. Gary D'amato, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "D'Amato: How Sand Valley Golf Resort is transforming central Wisconsin," 30 June 2018 Under the stewardship of chef Eric Frechon, a simple Valentine's Day dinner becomes an elegant, six-course gastronomic experience. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "Inside the Most Romantic Hotel in Paris," 6 Feb. 2018 Neither has our commitment to readers, thanks to the stewardship of the Blethen family, our owners for 122 years. Don Shelton, The Seattle Times, "Despite upheaval in journalism, one thing at The Seattle Times hasn’t changed," 31 Aug. 2018 The group’s brief stewardship of the Reader was rocky. Robert Channick,, "Sun-Times sells Chicago Reader to Chicago Crusader publisher," 15 June 2018 Good stewardship was mostly a dream more than 100 years ago in the forest. Washington Post, "‘People’s forest’ marks 100 years, seeks new connections," 16 May 2018 That means Trump's stewardship of the nuclear crisis is now far more popular than the President himself. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Trump hopes America First abroad leads to wins at home," 11 May 2018 Steele’s stewardship of the party drew significant criticism at the time. John Fritze,, "Maryland's Michael Steele, once the national Republican Party leader, searches for his place in Trump's GOP," 8 Apr. 2018 Wakanda’s stewardship of its natural resources is, however, unusual in another respect. The Economist, "Wakandanomics," 28 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stewardship.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of stewardship

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

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The first known use of stewardship was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of stewardship

: the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something

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More from Merriam-Webster on stewardship

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stewardship

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stewardship

Nglish: Translation of stewardship for Spanish Speakers

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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