\ˈwərd \

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 euphemism the 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 plural they had words and parted

7 often capitalized

a : the expressed or manifested mind and will of God

b : gospel sense 1a

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 woman a 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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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


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.


Could we word the headline differently? tried to word the declaration exactly right
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The question now is not only whether some words on paper will deter a nation like Russia, but also whether this declaration is worded in a way that actually increases the chances of conflict instead of deterring it. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Now NATO Says Russian “Hybrid Warfare” Could Start a Real War," 13 July 2018 Among Arab Gulf states, Qatar's statement was the most fiercely worded. Aya Batrawy And Jon Gambrell, The Christian Science Monitor, "Gulf Arab states support Palestinians, but also form subtle ties to Israel," 16 May 2018 This employment obligation is worded in a way that could capture almost anything. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Can the NFL or Its Teams Legally Require Players to Stand for the Anthem? NFLPA Doesn't Think So," 8 May 2018 Yet this week, Romano heaped praise on Flexer for her swift and strongly-worded denunciation of her fellow Democrat, U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty. Daniela Altimari, courant.com, "Sen. Mae Flexer Speaks Up And Connecticut's #MeToo Movement Finds A Voice," 5 Apr. 2018 The June 12 joint statement signed by Trump and Kim is vaguely worded and does not ensure that North Korea will abandon its nuclear weapons. Salvador Rizzo, Washington Post, "Anatomy of a Trump rally: 76 percent of claims are false, misleading or lacking evidence," 10 July 2018 The final product was vaguely worded and lacked numerical commitments or any firm details. Mark Landler, New York Times, "Chances of China Trade Win Undercut by Trump Team Infighting," 21 May 2018 The university will insist that the language is intentionally worded in an expansive way so as to accord the university with interpretative discretion. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Breaking Down Kevin Ollie's Case Against UConn and the University's Likely Defenses," 29 June 2018 But every carrier's policy might be worded differently and might have specific exclusions. Madison Park, CNN, "Is there such a thing as volcano insurance in Hawaii?," 7 May 2018

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

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

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More Definitions for word



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 \

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with word

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

Comments on word

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


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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