watch·​word | \ˈwäch-ˌwərd, ˈwȯch-\

Definition of watchword 

1 : a word or phrase used as a sign of recognition among members of the same society, class, or group

2a : a word or motto that embodies a principle or guide to action of an individual or group : slogan "safety" is our watchword

b : a guiding principle change is the watchword for both parties

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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

Sophistication was a watchword of Riccardo Tisci’s, too. Sarah Mower, Vogue, "The Top 9 Collections of London Fashion Week Spring 2019," 19 Sep. 2018 The watchword among meteorologists has become impact over speed, stressing that Florence will cause extreme damage through storm surges, rain, and flooding. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Florence Makes Landfall, Hundreds Already Need Evacuation," 14 Sep. 2018 Individual style has been a mantra of designers for years and is considered a watchword of good taste in interiors circles. Cindy Dampier,, "Antiques for millennials: You want old stuff — you just don't know it yet," 8 May 2018 With the company’s expansion into music, cross-pollination has become the watchword. Eric Spitznagel, Billboard, "The Internationalists: Five Companies Leading Dance Music's Global Expansion," 23 Mar. 2018 In music, the watchword has been uneasy, applied even to escapist fare. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Can Protest Art Get Its Mojo Back?," 7 May 2018 User experience, personalization and proactivity are the new watchwords. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "How did he get here? David Byrne’s American journey," 26 Apr. 2018 Exclusivity, not inclusivity, has been the watchword. Radhika Jones, Vanities, "Welcome to Vanity Fair’s Love & Royals Issue," 24 Apr. 2018 Overheating is a relatively new watchword for the Fed, after years of sluggish growth and weak inflation. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "Fed Set to Raise Rates, Issue New Economic Projections," 21 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'watchword.' 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 watchword

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for watchword

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for watchword

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

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More Definitions for watchword



English Language Learners Definition of watchword

: a word or phrase that expresses a rule that a particular person or group follows


watch·​word | \ˈwäch-ˌwərd \

Kids Definition of watchword

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Comments on watchword

What made you want to look up watchword? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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