- a word or phrase associated with some person or thing; a characteristic expression, typical greeting, or the like.
- a word or phrase used proverbially; common saying; proverb.
- an object of general reproach, derision, scorn, etc.: His crimes will make him a byword through the ages.
- an epithet, often of scorn.
Origin of byword
SynonymsSee more synonyms for byword on Thesaurus.com
1. slogan, motto. 2. maxim, apothegm, aphorism, saw, adage.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for by-word
The inactivity of our troops had long become a by-word among us.The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido
He has now become a by-word as a hypocrite and a merciless self-seeker.Slain By The Doones
R. D. Blackmore
The bishop had named him Isengrin, the by-word then for wolf.Historical Tales, Vol. 6 (of 15)
Byron had a club foot in his mind, and so Byron is a by-word.The Green Carnation
Robert Smythe Hichens
The word had been in use so frequently that it had become a by-word among the students.Hester's Counterpart
Jean K. Baird
- a person, place, or thing regarded as a perfect or proverbial example of somethingtheir name is a byword for good service
- an object of scorn or derision
- a common saying; proverb
Old English bīwyrde; see by, word; compare Old High German pīwurti, from Latin prōverbium proverb
Word Origin and History for by-word
also by-word, Old English biword "proverb," formed on the model of Latin proverbium or Greek parabole. Meaning "something that has become proverbial" is from 1530s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper