1. A sound or a combination of sounds, or its representation in writing or printing, that symbolizes and communicates a meaning and may consist of a single morpheme or of a combination of morphemes.
a. Something said; an utterance, remark, or comment: May I say a word about that?
b. A command or direction; an order: gave the word to retreat.
c. An assurance or promise; sworn intention: She has kept her word.
d. A verbal signal; a password or watchword.
a. Discourse or talk; speech: Actions speak louder than words.
b. Music The text of a vocal composition; lyrics.
c. Hostile or angry remarks made back and forth.
a. News: Any word on your promotion?
b. Rumor: Word has it they're divorcing.
5. Used euphemistically in combination with the initial letter of a term that is considered offensive or taboo or that one does not want to utter: “Although economists here will not call it a recession yet, the dreaded ‘R' word is beginning to pop up in the media” (Francine S. Kiefer).
a. See Logos.
b. The Scriptures; the Bible.
7. Computers A set of bits that is of a fixed size and is typically operated on by a computer's processor.
tr.v. word·ed, word·ing, words
To express in words: worded the petition carefully.
Slang Used to express approval or an affirmative response to something. Sometimes used with up.
at a word
In immediate response.
1. A favorable comment: She put in a good word for me.
2. Favorable news.
have a word with
To have a brief conversation with (someone); speak to.
have no words for
To be unable to describe or talk about.
in a word
In short; in summary: In a word, the situation is serious.
in so many words
1. In precisely those words; exactly: hinted at impending indictments but did not say it in so many words.
2. Speaking candidly and straightforwardly: In so many words, the weather has been beastly.
of few words
Not conversational or loquacious; laconic: a person of few words.
of (one's) word
Displaying personal dependability: a woman of her word.
take at (someone's) word
To be convinced of another person's sincerity and act in accord with that person's statement: We took them at their word that the job would be done on time.
take (someone's) word for it
To believe what someone says without investigating further.
upon my word
[Middle English, from Old English; see wer-5 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.