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[wawrd] /wɔrd/
a division or district of a city or town, as for administrative or political purposes.
one of the districts into which certain English and Scottish boroughs are divided.
a division, floor, or room of a hospital for a particular class or group of patients:
a convalescent ward; a critical ward.
any of the separate divisions of a prison.
a political subdivision of a parish in Louisiana.
Mormon Church. one of the subdivisions of a stake, presided over by a bishop.
Fortification. an open space within or between the walls of a castle or fortified place:
the castle's lower ward.
  1. a person, especially a minor, who has been legally placed under the care of a guardian or a court.
  2. the state of being under the care or control of a legal guardian.
  3. guardianship over a minor or some other person legally incapable of managing his or her own affairs.
the state of being under restraining guard or in custody.
a person who is under the protection or control of another.
a movement or posture of defense, as in fencing.
a curved ridge of metal inside a lock, forming an obstacle to the passage of a key that does not have a corresponding notch.
the notch or slot in the bit of a key into which such a ridge fits.
the act of keeping guard or protective watch:
watch and ward.
Archaic. a company of guards or a garrison.
verb (used with object)
to avert, repel, or turn aside (danger, harm, an attack, an assailant, etc.) (usually followed by off):
to ward off a blow; to ward off evil.
to place in a ward, as of a hospital or prison.
Archaic. to protect; guard.
Origin of ward
before 900; (noun) Middle English warde, Old English weard; (v.) Middle English warden, Old English weardian; cognate with Middle Dutch waerden, German warten; cf. guard
Related forms
wardless, adjective
1. precinct. 10. protégé. 16. parry, prevent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for warding
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • “I will not, I will not,” said Rufus, warding off the suggestion with both hands.

    The Tour Louis Couperus
  • It was sufficient for Mascarin to be assured of a danger to find means of warding it off.

    Caught In The Net Emile Gaboriau
  • The Marquise made another gentle, fatigued gesture of warding off praise.

    Rough-Hewn Dorothy Canfield
  • She held out her hands to him, palm outwards, as if warding off some present danger.

    Flamsted quarries Mary E. Waller
  • warding files, Fig. 2218, are made parallel in thickness, but are considerably tapered on their edges.

  • He raised a hand with the gesture of one warding off a blow.

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • There was no warding off of this terrible thing that had so suddenly come to our portion of the world.

British Dictionary definitions for warding


(in many countries) a district into which a city, town, parish, or other area is divided for administration, election of representatives, etc
a room in a hospital, esp one for patients requiring similar kinds of care: a maternity ward
one of the divisions of a prison
an open space enclosed within the walls of a castle
  1. Also called ward of court. a person, esp a minor or one legally incapable of managing his own affairs, placed under the control or protection of a guardian or of a court
  2. guardianship, as of a minor or legally incompetent person
the state of being under guard or in custody
a person who is under the protection or in the custody of another
a means of protection
  1. an internal ridge or bar in a lock that prevents an incorrectly cut key from turning
  2. a corresponding groove cut in a key
a less common word for warden1
(transitive) (archaic) to guard or protect
See also ward off
Derived Forms
wardless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English weard protector; related to Old High German wart, Old Saxon ward, Old Norse vorthr. See guard


Dame Barbara (Mary), Baroness Jackson. 1914–81, British economist, environmentalist, and writer. Her books include Spaceship Earth (1966)
Mrs Humphry, married name of Mary Augusta Arnold. 1851–1920, English novelist. Her novels include Robert Elsmere (1888) and The Case of Richard Meynell (1911)
Sir Joseph George. 1856–1930, New Zealand statesman; prime minister of New Zealand (1906–12; 1928–30)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for warding



Old English weard "a guarding, a watchman, a sentry," from West Germanic *wardo (cf. Old Saxon ward, Old Norse vörðr, Old High German wart). Used for administrative districts (at first in the sense of guardianship) from late 14c.; of hospital divisions from 1749. Meaning "minor under control of a guardian" is from early 15c. Ward-heeler is 1890, from heeler "loafer, one on the lookout for shady work" (1870s).


Old English weardian "to keep guard," from Proto-Germanic *wardojan- (cf. Old Saxon wardon, Old Norse varða "to guard," Old Frisian wardia, Middle Dutch waerden "to take care of," Old High German warten "to guard, look out for, expect," German warten "to wait, wait on, nurse, tend"), from *wardo- (see ward (n.)). French garder, Italian guardare, Spanish guardar are Germanic loan-words. Meaning "to parry, to fend off" (now usually with off) is recorded from 1570s. Related: Warded; warding.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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warding in Medicine

ward (wôrd)

  1. A room in a hospital usually holding six or more patients.

  2. A division in a hospital for the care of a particular group of patients.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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warding in the Bible

a prison (Gen. 40:3, 4); a watch-station (Isa. 21:8); a guard (Neh. 13:30).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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