- 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 on Thesaurus.com
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
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
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