ward

1 of 4

noun

1
a
: the action or process of guarding
b
: a body of guards
c(1)
: a division in a hospital
a maternity ward
(2)
: a large room in a hospital where a number of patients often requiring similar treatment are accommodated
Wallace Thurman died in 1934 in the tuberculosis ward of the New York City charity hospital on Welfare Island.Zeese Papanikolas
2
: the state of being under guard
especially : custody
3
a
: the inner court of a castle or fortress
b
: a division (such as a cell or block) of a prison
4
a
: a division of a city for representative, electoral, or administrative purposes
b
: a division of some English and Scottish counties corresponding to a hundred
c
: the Mormon local congregation having auxiliary organizations (such as Sunday schools and relief societies) and one or more quorums of each office of the Aaronic priesthood
5
: a projecting ridge of metal in a lock casing or keyhole permitting only the insertion of a key with a corresponding notch
also : a corresponding notch in a bit of a key
6
: a person or thing under guard, protection, or surveillance: such as
a
: a minor subject to wardship
b
: a person who by reason of incapacity (such as minority or mental illness) is under the protection of a court either directly or through a guardian appointed by the court

called also ward of court

c
: a person or body of persons under the protection or tutelage of a government
7
: a means of defense : protection

ward

2 of 4

verb

warded; warding; wards

transitive verb

1
: to keep watch over : guard
2
: to turn aside (something threatening) : deflect
usually used with off
ward off a blow
trying to ward off a cold

-ward

3 of 4

adjective suffix

variants or less commonly -wards
1
: that moves, tends, faces, or is directed toward
riverward
2
: that occurs or is situated in the direction of
leftward

-ward

4 of 4

adverb suffix

variants or -wards
1
: in a (specified) spatial or temporal direction
upward
afterward
2
: toward a (specified) point, position, or area
earthward

Examples of ward in a Sentence

Noun She works in the cancer ward. the council representative from Ward 22 They were wards of the state. Verb vowed that he would take whatever measures were necessary to ward the nation's people Adjective suffix a rearward movement of troops
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Turnout has decreased in Milwaukee’s wards where a majority of voters are Black. Hope Karnopp and Matthew Crowley, Journal Sentinel, 15 May 2024 Advertisement After working in a makeshift medical ward, Paul Dohrenwend was told to get in touch with Tim Pearson, who had a knack for processing children out of the country. Jim Lindgren, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for ward 

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English, from Old English weard & Anglo-French warde, garde, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German warta act of watching, Old English warian to beware of, guard, wær careful — more at guard, wary

Verb

Middle English, from Old English weardian & Anglo-French warder, garder, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German wartēn to watch, Old Norse vartha to guard, Old English weard ward

Adjective suffix

-ward from Middle English, from Old English -weard; akin to Old High German -wart, -wert -ward, Latin vertere to turn; -wards from -wards, adverb suffix — more at worth

Adverb suffix

-ward from Middle English, from Old English -weard, from -weard, adjective suffix; -wards from Middle English, from Old English -weardes, genitive singular neuter of -weard, adjective suffix

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ward was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near ward

Cite this Entry

“Ward.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ward. Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

ward

1 of 4 noun
1
: the action or process of guarding or of being under guard
especially : custody sense 1
2
a
: a division in a hospital
especially : a large room in a hospital where a number of patients stay
b
: a division (as a cell or block) of a prison
3
: an electoral or administrative division of a city
4
: a person (as a child) under the protection of a court or guardian

ward

2 of 4 verb
1
: to keep watch over : guard
2
: to turn aside : deflect
usually used with off
ward off a cold

-ward

3 of 4 adjective suffix
wərd
variants also -wards
wərdz
1
: that moves, tends, faces, or is directed toward
windward
2
: that occurs or is located in the direction of
rearward

-ward

4 of 4 adverb suffix
variants or -wards
1
: in a (specified) direction
rearwards
afterward
2
: toward a (specified) point, position, or area
skyward
Etymology

Adjective suffix

Old English -weard (adjective suffix) "being or moving in the direction of"

Medical Definition

ward

noun
: a division in a hospital
a maternity ward
especially : a large room in a hospital where a number of patients often requiring similar treatment are accommodated
a tuberculosis ward

Legal Definition

ward

noun
1
: a division of a city for representative, electoral, or administrative purposes
2
a
: a person who by reason of incapacity (as minority or incompetency) is under the control of a guardian
b
: a person who by reason of incapacity is under the protection of a court either directly or through a guardian appointed by the court

called also ward of the court

compare interdict
wardship noun

Biographical Definition

Ward 1 of 6

biographical name (1)

(Aaron) Montgomery 1843–1913 American merchant

Ward

2 of 6

biographical name (2)

Ar*te*mas ˈär-tə-məs How to pronounce Ward (audio) 1727–1800 American general in Revolution

Ward

3 of 6

biographical name (3)

Artemus see Charles Farrar browne

Ward

4 of 6

biographical name (4)

Barbara 1914–1981 Baroness Jackson of Lodsworth English economist

Ward

5 of 6

biographical name (5)

Sir Joseph George 1856–1930 New Zealand statesman

Ward

6 of 6

biographical name (6)

Mary Augusta 1851–1920 Mrs. Humphry Ward née Arnold English novelist

More from Merriam-Webster on ward

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