\ ˈwərd How to pronounce word (audio) \

Definition of word

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning usually without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use
(2) : the entire set of linguistic forms produced by combining a single base with various inflectional elements without change in the part of speech elements
b(1) : a written or printed character or combination of characters representing a spoken word the number of words to a line sometimes used with the first letter of a real or pretended taboo word prefixed as an often humorous euphemismthe first man to utter the f word on British TVTimewe were not afraid to use the d word and talk about death— Erma Bombeck
(2) : any segment of written or printed discourse ordinarily appearing between spaces or between a space and a punctuation mark
2a : a brief remark or conversation would like to have a word with you
b : something that is said
c words plural
(1) : talk, discourse putting one's feelings into words
(2) : the text of a vocal musical composition
3 : order, command don't move till I give the word
4a : news, information sent word that he would be late
b : rumor
5 : promise, declaration kept her word
6 : a quarrelsome utterance or conversation usually used in pluralthey had words and parted
7 often capitalized
a : the expressed or manifested mind and will of God
c : logos
8 : the act of speaking or of making verbal communication
10 : a number of bytes processed as a unit and conveying a quantum of information in communication and computer work
11 : a verbal signal : password
12 slang used interjectionally to express agreement
good word
1 : a favorable statement put in a good word for me
2 : good news what's the good word
in a word
: in short
in so many words
1 : in exactly those terms implied that such actions were criminal but did not say so in so many words
2 : in plain forthright language in so many words, she wasn't fit to be seen— Jean Stafford
of few words
: not inclined to say more than is necessary : laconic a man of few words
of one's word
: that can be relied on to keep a promise used only after man or womana man of his word
upon my word
: with my assurance : indeed, assuredly upon my word, I've never heard of such a thing


worded; wording; words

Definition of word (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to express in words : phrase a carefully worded reply

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Synonyms for word

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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What makes a word a real word?

The word word has a wide range of meanings and uses in English. Yet one of the most often looked for pieces of information regarding word is not something that would be found in its definition. Instead, it is some variant of the question, What makes a word a real word?

One of the most prolific areas of change and variation in English is vocabulary; new words are constantly being coined to name or describe new inventions or innovations, or to better identify aspects of our rapidly changing world. Constraints of time, money, and staff would make it impossible for any dictionary, no matter how large, to capture a fully comprehensive account of all the words in the language. And even if such a leviathan reference was somehow fashioned, the dictionary would be obsolete the instant it was published as speakers and writers continued generating new terms to meet their constantly changing needs.

Most general English dictionaries are designed to include only those words that meet certain criteria of usage across wide areas and over extended periods of time (for more details about how words are chosen for dictionary entry, read "How does a word get into a Merriam-Webster dictionary?" in our FAQ). As a result, they may omit words that are still in the process of becoming established, those that are too highly specialized, or those that are so informal that they are rarely documented in professionally edited writing. But the words left out are as real as those that gain entry; the former simply haven't met the criteria for dictionary entry–at least not yet (newer ones may ultimately gain admission to the dictionary's pages if they gain sufficient use).

However, in preparing your own writings, it is worth remembering that the dictionary encompasses the most widely used terms in English. Words that are left out may have usage limited to specific, isolated, or informal contexts, so they should be used carefully.

Examples of word in a Sentence

Noun How do you spell that word? “Please” is a useful word. Our teacher often used words I didn't know. What is the French word for car? Describe the experience in your own words. The lawyer used Joe's words against him. She gave the word to begin. We will wait for your word before we serve dinner. Verb Could we word the headline differently? tried to word the declaration exactly right
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But the statement, however strongly worded and strongly felt, was also ineffective as a means of changing the press dynamic. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Royal Flush," 10 Jan. 2020 The answers about the sun getting hotter may reflect, in part, the way the question was worded. Anchorage Daily News, "Poll: Americans broadly accept climate science, but many are fuzzy on the details," 9 Dec. 2019 And the first part of it, which says: 'In due deference … as requested … repositioning forces over the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement;' poorly worded; implies withdrawal. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "Pentagon vigorously defends Trump’s decision to kill top Iranian general, and the intelligence behind it," 7 Jan. 2020 However, wording on the measure was broad and failed clearly cite just how much would go to each program area. oregonlive, "Audit: Portland City Council ‘fell short’ on promises to voters on recent tax, bond measures," 17 Dec. 2019 Despite wording in her initial post, THR has confirmed Savage is not officially partnered with Patreon. Sharareh Drury, The Hollywood Reporter, "R. Kelly's Girlfriend Joycelyn Savage Speaks Out Against Singer, Saying She Is A "Victim"," 23 Nov. 2019 If one of these companies declines to comply with the warrant and challenges the basis of it, that may be the most direct route for evaluating whether and how these warrants can and must be worded in order to be valid. Jocelyn Kaiser, Science | AAAS, "A judge said police can search the DNA of millions of Americans without their consent. What’s next?," 7 Nov. 2019 But Abel’s research finds that both men and women discriminate against female bosses who dish out criticism, even when the feedback is worded identically to the feedback given by male managers. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "Why are workers more resentful of criticism when the boss is a woman?," 7 Oct. 2019 The injunction, which has been granted for 14 days pending a hearing, is vaguely worded. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Hong Kong’s latest injunction protects police while putting press freedom at risk," 26 Oct. 2019

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2b


13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for word


Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German wort word, Latin verbum, Greek eirein to say, speak, Hittite weriya- to call, name

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Time Traveler for word

Time Traveler

The first known use of word was before the 12th century

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Statistics for word

Cite this Entry

“Word.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/word. Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for word


How to pronounce word (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of word

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a sound or combination of sounds that has a meaning and is spoken or written
: a brief remark or conversation : something that a person says
: an order or command



English Language Learners Definition of word (Entry 2 of 2)

: to say (something) in a particular way by choosing which words to use


\ ˈwərd How to pronounce word (audio) \

Kids Definition of word

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a sound or combination of sounds that has meaning and is spoken by a human being
2 : a written or printed letter or letters standing for a spoken word
3 : a brief remark or conversation I'd like a word with you.
4 : command entry 2 sense 1, order We are waiting for the word to begin.
5 : news sense 1 Has there been any word on how they are?
6 : promise entry 1 sense 1 I give you my word.
7 words plural : remarks said in anger or in a quarrel We had words yesterday.


worded; wording

Kids Definition of word (Entry 2 of 2)

: to express in words : phrase I don't know how to word my idea.

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More from Merriam-Webster on word

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for word

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with word

Spanish Central: Translation of word

Nglish: Translation of word for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of word for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about word

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