[ wair ]
/ wɛər /
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See synonyms for: ware / wares on Thesaurus.com

Usually wares .
  1. articles of merchandise or manufacture; goods: a peddler selling his wares.
  2. any intangible items, as services or products of artistic or intellectual creativity, that are salable: an actor advertising his wares.
a specified kind or class of merchandise or of manufactured article (usually used in combination): silverware;glassware.See also -ware.
pottery, or a particular kind of pottery: delft ware.
Archaeology. a group of ceramic types classified according to paste and texture, surface modification, as burnish or glaze, and decorative motifs rather than shape and color.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of ware

First recorded before 1000; Middle English; Old English waru; cognate with German Ware

Other definitions for ware (2 of 5)

[ wair ]
/ wɛər /

watchful, wary, or cautious.
verb (used with object), wared, war·ing.
to beware of (usually used in the imperative).

Origin of ware

First recorded before 900; Middle English adjective; Old English adjective wær; cognate with German gewahr “aware,” Old Norse varr “aware”

Other definitions for ware (3 of 5)

[ wair ]
/ wɛər /

verb (used with object), wared, war·ing.Scot. and North England.
to spend; expend.

Origin of ware

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English, from Old Norse verja “to spend, invest”

Other definitions for ware (4 of 5)

[ wair ]
/ wɛər /

noun Scot. and North England.
the first season in the year; spring.

Origin of ware

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English, from Old Norse vār “spring”; perhaps akin to Latin vēr, Greek éar “spring”; see vernal

Other definitions for ware (5 of 5)


a combining form extracted from software, occurring as the final element in words that refer to a specified kind or class of software: spyware;shareware.See also ware1 (def. 2).
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -ware mean?

The combining formware is used like a suffix meaning “software,” a program used to direct a computer. It is occasionally used in technical terms, especially in computer science.

The form –ware comes from the word software. The word software itself was coined around 1955 to contrast with hardware, a much older term used to refer to mechanical equipment. Learn more at our entry for hardware.

Examples of -ware

One example of a term from computer science that features the suffix –ware is spyware, “software that is installed surreptitiously and gathers information about an internet user’s browsing habits, intercepts the user’s personal data, etc., transmitting this information to a third party.”

The spy part of the word here literally refers to “the act of observing secretly.” As we have seen, –ware means “software.” Spyware literally means “software for observing secretly.”

What are some words that use the combining form –ware?

What are some other forms that –ware may be commonly confused with?

Outside of computer science, many words that end with the exact letters –ware, such as kitchenware or glassware, are not necessarily using the combining form –ware to denote “software.” Learn why glassware means “articles made of glass” at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

Given the meaning of the combining form –ware, what does freeware literally mean?

How to use ware in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ware (1 of 3)

/ (wɛə) /

noun (often in combination)
(functioning as singular) articles of the same kind or materialglassware; silverware
porcelain or pottery of a specified typeagateware; jasper ware
See also wares

Word Origin for ware

Old English waru; related to Old Frisian were, Old Norse vara, Middle Dutch Ware

British Dictionary definitions for ware (2 of 3)

/ (wɛə) archaic /

another word for beware
another word for wary, wise 1

Word Origin for ware

Old English wær; related to Old Saxon, Old High German giwar, Old Norse varr, Gothic war, Latin vereor. See aware, beware

British Dictionary definitions for ware (3 of 3)

/ (wɛə) /

(tr) Northern English and British dialect to spend or squander

Word Origin for ware

C15: of Scandinavian origin; related to Icelandic verja
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

Scientific definitions for ware


A suffix that means “software,” as in shareware.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.