1 of 2


: 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
: the entire set of linguistic forms produced by combining a single base with various inflectional elements without change in the part of speech elements
: 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 deathErma Bombeck
: any segment of written or printed discourse ordinarily appearing between spaces or between a space and a punctuation mark
: a brief remark or conversation
would like to have a word with you
: something that is said
c words plural
: talk, discourse
putting one's feelings into words
: the text of a vocal musical composition
: order, command
don't move till I give the word
: news, information
sent word that he would be late
: rumor
: promise, declaration
kept her word
: a quarrelsome utterance or conversation
usually used in plural
they had words and parted
often capitalized
: the expressed or manifested mind and will of God
: logos
: the act of speaking or of making verbal communication
: a number of bytes processed as a unit and conveying a quantum of information in communication and computer work
: a verbal signal : password
used interjectionally to express agreement


2 of 2


worded; wording; words

transitive verb

: to express in words : phrase
a carefully worded reply
good word
: a favorable statement
put in a good word for me
: good news
what's the good word
in a word
: in short
in so many words
: in exactly those terms
implied that such actions were criminal but did not say so in so many words
: in plain forthright language
in so many words, she wasn't fit to be seenJean 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

Did you know?

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.

Example Sentences

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Despite the red flags, hundreds of investors were receiving their dividends on time and word was spreading. Lizzie Johnson, Anchorage Daily News, 5 Feb. 2023 For Lin, surviving sepsis left him determined to make sure that the word gets out about sepsis — and not just in English. Los Angeles Times, 5 Feb. 2023 Hayes became the first woman to earn the honor in 1977, earning the title after her Grammy win for best spoken word recording for Great American Documents. Grace Gavilanes, Peoplemag, 5 Feb. 2023 The Clue: This word starts with a consonant and ends with a vowel. Erik Kain, Forbes, 4 Feb. 2023 The word comes in the wake a ransomware attack that diverted attention from the company’s plans to address lagging profitability. Eric Killelea, San Antonio Express-News, 4 Feb. 2023 Because such people possessed no special skill or status, the word gradually fell into disrepute. San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Feb. 2023 Detroit police on Monday called for help from the public – a week after Kemp on Jan. 23 reported Kelly missing and began spreading the word via social media and notifying news outlets. Andrea May Sahouri, USA TODAY, 3 Feb. 2023 The word Tuesday was that more than 12,000 tickets had been sold. Mark Stewart, Journal Sentinel, 3 Feb. 2023
At each stage, MyPerfectResume offers suggestions on what content to include and how to word it for the best results. Dallas News, 4 Oct. 2022 Your doctor may know how to word a letter that makes clear your medical need for accommodation without giving unnecessary detail. Karla L. Miller, Washington Post, 30 June 2022 Gerritson said the new standards simply re-word the old standards. Trisha Powell Crain | Tcrain@al.com, al, 29 Mar. 2022 However, Hoffman would not say how the plan came together or whether the electors received advice on how to word the document. Richard Ruelas, USA TODAY, 14 Jan. 2022 However, Hoffman would not say how the plan came together or whether the electors received advice on how to word the document. Richard Ruelas, USA TODAY, 14 Jan. 2022 However, Hoffman would not say how the plan came together or whether the electors received advice on how to word the document. Richard Ruelas, USA TODAY, 14 Jan. 2022 However, Hoffman would not say how the plan came together or whether the electors received advice on how to word the document. Richard Ruelas, USA TODAY, 14 Jan. 2022 However, Hoffman would not say how the plan came together or whether the electors received advice on how to word the document. Richard Ruelas, USA TODAY, 14 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

Word History



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

First Known Use


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


13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near word

Cite this Entry

“Word.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/word. Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a sound or combination of sounds that has meaning and is spoken by a human being
: a written or printed letter or letters standing for a spoken word
: a brief remark or conversation
could I have a word with you
: order entry 1 sense 5b
give the word to begin
: news sense 1
any word on how they are
: promise entry 1 sense 1
I give you my word
: a remark or conversation uttered in anger
usually used in plural
words were exchanged and a fight broke out


2 of 2 verb
: to express in words : phrase
worded their request with great care

More from Merriam-Webster on word

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