[ wawrd ]
See synonyms for ward on Thesaurus.com
  1. a division or district of a city or town, as for administrative or political purposes.

  2. one of the districts into which certain English and Scottish boroughs are divided.

  1. a division, floor, or room of a hospital for a particular class or group of patients: a convalescent ward; a critical ward.

  2. any of the separate divisions of a prison.

  3. a political subdivision of a parish in Louisiana.

  4. Mormon Church. one of the subdivisions of a stake, presided over by a bishop.

  5. Fortification. an open space within or between the walls of a castle or fortified place: the castle's lower ward.

  6. Law.

    • a person, especially a minor, who has been legally placed under the care of a guardian or a court.

    • the state of being under the care or control of a legal guardian.

    • guardianship over a minor or some other person legally incapable of managing their own affairs.

  7. the state of being under restraining guard or in custody.

  8. a person who is under the protection or control of another.

  9. a movement or posture of defense, as in fencing.

  10. a curved ridge of metal inside a lock, forming an obstacle to the passage of a key that does not have a corresponding notch.

  11. the notch or slot in the bit of a key into which such a ridge fits.

  12. the act of keeping guard or protective watch: watch and ward.

  13. Archaic. a company of guards or a garrison.

verb (used with object)
  1. 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.

  2. to place in a ward, as of a hospital or prison.

  1. Archaic. to protect; guard.

Origin of ward

First recorded before 900; Middle English noun warde, Old English weard; Middle English verb warde(n), Old English weardian; cognate with Middle Dutch waerden, German warten; cf. guard

Other words for ward

Other words from ward

  • wardless, adjective

Other definitions for Ward (2 of 3)

[ wawrd ]

  1. (Aaron) Montgomery, 1843–1913, U.S. merchant and mail-order retailer.

  2. Ar·te·mas [ahr-tuh-muhs], /ˈɑr tə məs/, 1727–1800, American general in the American Revolution.

  1. Ar·te·mus [ahr-tuh-muhs], /ˈɑr tə məs/, Charles Farrar Browne, 1834–67, U.S. humorist.

  2. Barbara Baroness Jackson of Lodsworth, 1914–81, English economist and author.

  3. Mrs. Humphry Mary Augusta Arnold, 1851–1920, English novelist, born in Tasmania.

  4. Sir Joseph George, 1856–1930, New Zealand statesman, born in Australia: prime minister of New Zealand 1906–12, 1928–30.

  5. Lester Frank, 1841–1913, U.S. sociologist.

  6. Nathaniel "Theodore de la Guard", 1578?–1652, English clergyman, lawyer, and author in America.

  7. a male given name.

Other definitions for -ward (3 of 3)


  1. a native English suffix denoting spatial or temporal direction, as specified by the initial element: toward; seaward; afterward; backward.

Origin of -ward

Middle English; Old English -weard towards; cognate with German -wärts; akin to Latin vertere to turn (see verse)

usage note For -ward

Both -ward and -wards occur in such words as backward, forward, upward, and toward. The -ward form is by far the more common in edited American English writing.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ward in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ward (1 of 3)


/ (wɔːd) /

  1. (in many countries) a district into which a city, town, parish, or other area is divided for administration, election of representatives, etc

  2. a room in a hospital, esp one for patients requiring similar kinds of care: a maternity ward

  1. one of the divisions of a prison

  2. an open space enclosed within the walls of a castle

  3. law

    • 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

    • guardianship, as of a minor or legally incompetent person

  4. the state of being under guard or in custody

  5. a person who is under the protection or in the custody of another

  6. a means of protection

    • an internal ridge or bar in a lock that prevents an incorrectly cut key from turning

    • a corresponding groove cut in a key

  7. a less common word for warden 1

  1. (tr) archaic to guard or protect

Origin of ward

Old English weard protector; related to Old High German wart, Old Saxon ward, Old Norse vorthr. See guard

Derived forms of ward

  • wardless, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for Ward (2 of 3)


/ (wɔːd) /

  1. Dame Barbara (Mary), Baroness Jackson. 1914–81, British economist, environmentalist, and writer. Her books include Spaceship Earth (1966)

  2. 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)

  1. Sir Joseph George. 1856–1930, New Zealand statesman; prime minister of New Zealand (1906–12; 1928–30)

British Dictionary definitions for -ward (3 of 3)


  1. (forming adjectives) indicating direction towards: a backward step; heavenward progress

  2. (forming adverbs) a variant and the usual US and Canadian form of -wards

Origin of -ward

Old English -weard towards

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