verb (used with object)

to express in words; select words to express; phrase: to word a contract with great care.


    at a word, in immediate response to an order or request; in an instant: At a word they came to take the situation in hand.
    be as good as one's word, to hold to one's promises.
    eat one's words, to retract one's statement, especially with humility: They predicted his failure, but he made them eat their words.
    have a word, to talk briefly: Tell your aunt that I would like to have a word with her.
    have no words for, to be unable to describe: She had no words for the sights she had witnessed.
    in a word, in summary; in short: In a word, there was no comparison.Also in one word.
    in so many words, in unequivocal terms; explicitly: She told them in so many words to get out.
    keep one's word, to fulfill one's promise: I said I'd meet the deadline, and I kept my word.
    man of his word/woman of her word, a person who can be trusted to keep a promise; a reliable person.
    (upon) my word! (used as an exclamation of surprise or astonishment.)
    of few words, laconic; taciturn: a woman of few words but of profound thoughts.
    of many words, talkative; loquacious; wordy: a person of many words but of little wit.
    put in a good word for, to speak favorably of; commend: He put in a good word for her with the boss.Also put in a word for.
    take one at one's word, to take a statement to be literal and true.
    take the words out of one's mouth, to say exactly what another person was about to say.
    weigh one's words, to choose one's words carefully in speaking or writing: It was an important message, and he was weighing his words.

Origin of word

before 900; Middle English, Old English; cognate with Dutch woord, German Wort, Old Norse orth, Gothic waurd; akin to OPruss wirds, Latin verbum ‘word’, Lithuanian var̃das ‘name’
Related formsin·ter·word, adjectiveout·word, verb (used with object)well-word·ed, adjective

Synonyms for word

term of art


a word or phrase that has a specific or precise meaning within a given discipline or field and might have a different meaning in common usage: Set is a term of art used by mathematicians, and burden of proof is a term of art used by lawyers.
See also art1(def 9).
Also called word of art.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for word

Contemporary Examples of word

Historical Examples of word

  • Now don't breathe a word of this, but there's a big deal on in Consolidated Copper.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Was the gentleman” (he chose that word as he looked at the boys) “layman or clerk?

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • I have no evidence, except your word, that any such letter has been received.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Thoroughbred is the word for her, style and action, as the horse people say, perfect.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • That's all gossip, you know; not a word of truth in it, and it's been very annoying to us both.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

British Dictionary definitions for word



one of the units of speech or writing that native speakers of a language usually regard as the smallest isolable meaningful element of the language, although linguists would analyse these further into morphemesRelated adjective: lexical, verbal
an instance of vocal intercourse; chat, talk, or discussionto have a word with someone
an utterance or expression, esp a brief onea word of greeting
news or informationhe sent word that he would be late
a verbal signal for action; commandwhen I give the word, fire!
an undertaking or promiseI give you my word; he kept his word
an autocratic decree or utterance; orderhis word must be obeyed
a watchword or slogan, as of a political partythe word now is ``freedom''
computing a set of bits used to store, transmit, or operate upon an item of information in a computer, such as a program instruction
as good as one's word doing what one has undertaken or promised to do
at a word at once
by word of mouth orally rather than by written means
in a word briefly or in short
my word!
  1. an exclamation of surprise, annoyance, etc
  2. Australianan exclamation of agreement
of one's word given to or noted for keeping one's promisesI am a man of my word
put in a word for or put in a good word for to make favourable mention of (someone); recommend
take someone at his word or take someone at her word to assume that someone means, or will do, what he or she sayswhen he told her to go, she took him at his word and left
take someone's word for it to accept or believe what someone says
the last word
  1. the closing remark of a conversation or argument, esp a remark that supposedly settles an issue
  2. the latest or most fashionable design, make, or modelthe last word in bikinis
  3. the finest example (of some quality, condition, etc)the last word in luxury
the word the proper or most fitting expressioncold is not the word for it, it's freezing!
upon my word!
  1. archaicon my honour
  2. an exclamation of surprise, annoyance, etc
word for word
  1. (of a report, transcription, etc) using exactly the same words as those employed in the situation being reported; verbatim
  2. translated by substituting each word in the new text for each corresponding word in the original rather than by general sense
word of honour a promise; oath
(modifier) of, relating to, or consisting of wordsa word list


(tr) to state in words, usually specially selected ones; phrase
(tr often foll by up) Australian informal to inform or advise (a person)
See also words

Word Origin for word

Old English word; related to Old High German wort, Old Norse orth, Gothic waurd, Latin verbum, Sanskrit vratá command


noun the Word

Christianity the 2nd person of the Trinity
Scripture, the Bible, or the Gospels as embodying or representing divine revelationOften called: the Word of God

Word Origin for Word

translation of Greek logos, as in John 1:1
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 word

Old English word "speech, talk, utterance, word," from Proto-Germanic *wurdan (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian word, Dutch woord, Old High German, German wort, Old Norse orð, Gothic waurd), from PIE *were- "speak, say" (see verb).

The meaning "promise" was in Old English, as was the theological sense. In the plural, the meaning "verbal altercation" (as in to have words with someone) dates from mid-15c. Word processor first recorded 1973; word processing is from 1984; word wrap is from 1977. A word to the wise is from Latin phrase verbum sapienti satis est "a word to the wise is enough." Word of mouth is recorded from 1550s.

It is dangerous to leave written that which is badly written. A chance word, upon paper, may destroy the world. Watch carefully and erase, while the power is still yours, I say to myself, for all that is put down, once it escapes, may rot its way into a thousand minds, the corn become a black smut, and all libraries, of necessity, be burned to the ground as a consequence. [William Carlos Williams, "Paterson"]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with word


In addition to the idioms beginning with word

  • word for word
  • word of honor
  • word of mouth, by
  • words fail me
  • words of one syllable, in
  • words stick in one's throat
  • words to that effect
  • word to the wise, a

also see:

  • actions speak louder than words
  • at a loss (for words)
  • at a word
  • break one's word
  • eat one's words
  • famous last words
  • fighting words
  • four-letter word
  • from the word go
  • get a word in edgewise
  • give the word
  • go back on (one's word)
  • good as one's word
  • hang on someone's words
  • have a word with
  • have words with
  • in brief (a word)
  • in other words
  • in so many words
  • keep one's word
  • last word
  • leave word
  • man of his word
  • mark my words
  • mince matters (words)
  • mum's the word
  • not breathe a word
  • not open one's mouth (utter a word)
  • of few words
  • picture is worth a thousand words
  • play on words
  • put in a good word
  • put into words
  • put words in someone's mouth
  • swallow one's words
  • take someone at his or her word
  • take the words out of someone's mouth
  • true to (one's word)
  • weasel word
  • weigh one's words
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.