watch·​word ˈwäch-ˌwərd How to pronounce watchword (audio)
: a word or phrase used as a sign of recognition among members of the same society, class, or group
: a word or motto that embodies a principle or guide to action of an individual or group : slogan
"safety" is our watchword
: a guiding principle
change is the watchword for both parties

Examples of watchword in a Sentence

The new watchword in his campaign is “It's time for change.” the watchword is changed every day
Recent Examples on the Web The watchword for activists should be: Choose your battle wisely for constructive impact, lest it be seen as a shakedown driven by vanity. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 30 May 2024 But division has become America’s watchword at our peril. Armstrong Williams, Baltimore Sun, 13 Mar. 2024 Amateurism is no longer the watchword of the Olympic movement: The word appears nowhere in the 112 pages of the current Olympic Charter. Victor Mather, New York Times, 10 Apr. 2024 The story was especially controversial at a time when unity was a national watchword. Tom Stanton, Detroit Free Press, 11 Feb. 2024 But parity figures to be the watchword throughout this 2024 season. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 14 Feb. 2024 Democratic ideas that were punishable by imprisonment in the sixteen-sixties became the watchwords of the American and French Revolutions a century later. Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 Passion and Perseverance, the two watchwords at this year’s TV Drama Vision in Göteborg will resonate across this year’s program where a record 700 delegates will take the pulse of what’s hot and upcoming from the Nordics and Europe. Annika Pham, Variety, 18 Jan. 2024 Business, policy and cultural leaders have always had to contend with uncertainty, a watchword that has almost become a cliché. Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times, 6 Dec. 2023

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

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near watchword

Cite this Entry

“Watchword.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


watch·​word -ˌwərd How to pronounce watchword (audio)
: a secret word used as a signal or password
: a motto used as a slogan or cry for common support

More from Merriam-Webster on watchword

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