Meaning of WORD in English

I. word 1 S1 W1 /wɜːd $ wɜːrd/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: adjective : ↑ worded , ↑ wordless , ↑ wordy ; noun : ↑ word , ↑ wording ; verb : ↑ word ]

[ Language: Old English ]

1 . GROUP OF LETTERS [countable] a single group of letters that are used together with a particular meaning:

Write an essay of about five hundred words.

What does that word mean?

'Vater' is the German word for (=that means) 'father'.

Perhaps 'lucky' is not exactly the right word.

⇨ ↑ buzzword , ↑ four-letter word , ↑ swear word

2 . sb’s words the things that someone says or writes:

Those are his words, not mine.

in sb’s words

Jones was, in the judge’s words, ‘an evil man’.

In your own words, explain the term ‘personal service’.

3 . the words the words that are sung as part of a song:

I know the tune, but I've forgotten the words.

the words to

Many people don't know the words to the country's national anthem.

4 . have a word especially spoken to talk to someone quickly, especially because you need their advice about something or you want to tell them to do something:

Could I have a word?

have a word with

I’ll have a word with him and see if he’ll help.

have a quick/brief word

I was hoping to have a quick word with you.

have/exchange a few words

Could I have a few words with you?

5 . want a word spoken to want to talk to someone, especially in order to criticize them

want a word with

Wait a minute! I want a word with you!

6 . not hear/understand/believe a word used to emphasize that you cannot hear, understand etc what someone says or writes:

No one could hear a word because someone had cut the amplifier cable.

not hear/understand/believe a word of

I can’t understand a word of Russian.

7 . without (saying) a word if you do something without a word, you do not say anything while you do it:

He left without a word.

8 . say a word/say a few words to make a short speech about something:

I’d like to say a few words about the plans.

9 . a word of warning/caution/advice/thanks etc something you say that warns someone, thanks them etc:

It’s a beautiful city, but a word of warning: street robberies are very common.

He left without a word of apology.

10 . not say a word

a) ( also not breathe a word ) to not say anything about something because it is a secret:

Promise you won’t say a word to anyone?

b) to not say anything:

What’s wrong? You haven’t said a word since you got here.

11 . put your feelings/thoughts etc into words to express what you want to say clearly:

He found it difficult to put ideas into words.

12 . have/exchange words (with somebody) to argue – use this when you do not want to make the argument seem serious:

I was in a bad mood and he kept pestering me, so we had words.

13 . a harsh/a cross/an angry etc word something you say that shows you are angry or want to criticize someone:

Mountain rescue teams have harsh words to say to people who climb without proper equipment.

They were married for 50 years and she says there was never an angry word between them.

14 . NEWS/INFORMATION [singular, uncountable] a piece of news or a message:

Word came that our duties would be changed.

‘Have you heard from Ann?’ ‘No, not a word.’

There was still no word from John.

word gets out/around (=people hear about something)

It’s a very small town and if you do something bad, word gets around.

the word is (that)/word has it (that) (=people are saying that)

The word is that the two companies are planning a merger.

spread/pass the word (=tell other people some information or news)

Health officials are encouraging people to spread the word about the benefits of exercise.

send/bring word old-fashioned formal (=send or bring a message)

The mayor sent word he’d be late.

Word of mouth (=information you get by someone telling you) is one of the best ways of getting business.

by word of mouth

Much of this information is picked up by word of mouth from previous students.

15 . the last/final word

a) the power to decide whether or how to do something

the last/final word on

The final word on policy determination belongs to the committee.

She has the final word on whether policies are put into action or not.

b) the last statement or speech in a discussion or argument:

The last word must go to Nick, who has organized the whole project.

Why must you always have the last word in any argument?

c) in sports, the last hit or kick in a game, especially when it is successful:

Adams had the final word with a last-minute goal.

16 . my/his/your etc word a sincere promise to do something, or a promise that what you say is true:

I trust him to keep his word.

I give you my word (=I promise) that it won’t happen again.

They had given their word of honour that they would not attempt to escape.

We only have his word for it that he has already paid.

Delors claimed that Johnson had gone back on his word (=not done what he had promised to do) .

The business is doing very well. You can take my word for it (=accept that what I say is true) .

I never know whether to take him at his word (=believe what he says) .

His word is his bond (=he always does what he promises to do) .

be true to your word/be as good as your word (=do what you promise to do)

a man of his word/a woman of her word (=a man or woman who does what they have promised to do)

17 . word for word

a) in exactly the same words:

The newspaper printed his speech more or less word for word.

b) ( also word by word ) if you translate a piece of writing word for word, you translate the meaning of each single word rather than the meaning of a whole phrase or sentence

18 . in a word used before giving a very simple answer or explanation:

We are, in a word, busy. Ridiculously busy.

19 . in words of one syllable saying something in a way that is very easy to understand, especially because the person you are talking to is stupid:

You have to put everything in words of one syllable for her.

20 . in so many words ( also in as many words ) [usually negative] in a direct way, or in a way that makes it very clear what you mean:

Aunt Fay wasn’t happy and said so in as many words.

21 . take the words (right) out of sb’s mouth spoken if someone takes the words out of your mouth, they have just said what you were going to say

22 . put words into sb’s mouth spoken to tell someone what you think they are trying to say, in a way that annoys them:

Will you stop putting words into my mouth – I never said I disliked the job.

23 . AN ORDER [singular] an order to do something:

On the word ‘go’ everyone has to run to the end of the room and back.

When I give the word, grab him.

24 . (right) from the word go spoken from the beginning of something:

The marriage was a disaster from the word go.

25 . too silly/complicated/ridiculous etc for words spoken extremely silly, complicated etc:

His behaviour has been too pathetic for words.

26 . (have/drop) a word in sb’s ear to say something to someone privately, especially to give them advice or a warning:

If I were you, I’d have a word in his ear before it’s too late.

27 . get a word in (edgeways) to get a chance to say something:

Once George starts talking it’s difficult to get a word in edgeways.

28 . put in a (good) word for somebody to try to help someone get or achieve something by saying good things about them to someone else:

I got the job because Paul put in a good word for me.

29 . words fail me spoken used to say that you are so surprised, angry, or shocked that you do not know what to say:

I ... words fail me.

30 . word! American English informal used to say that you understand or agree with what someone has just said

31 . (Upon) my word! spoken old-fashioned used when you are very surprised:

My word! Hasn’t she grown?

32 . surprised/angry/pleased etc isn’t the word for it spoken used to say that you are extremely surprised, angry etc

33 . a man/woman etc of few words someone who does not say very much:

My father was a man of few words.

34 . the Word (of God) the religious ideas and messages in the Bible

⇨ eat your words at ↑ eat (3), ⇨ ↑ four-letter word , ⇨ a good word for somebody/something at ↑ good 1 (31), ⇨ in other words at ↑ other (11), ⇨ be the last word in something at ↑ last 1 (10), ⇨ be lost for words at ↑ lost 2 (10), ⇨ mark my words at ↑ mark 2 (12), ⇨ not mince your words at ↑ mince 1 (3), ⇨ play on words at ↑ play 2 (6), ⇨ say the word at ↑ say 1 (26), ⇨ the spoken word at ↑ spoken 2 (2), ⇨ the written word at ↑ written 2 (3)

• • •


■ adjectives

▪ a new word

Computer technology has brought many new words into our language.

▪ the right/exact word (=the word that has the meaning you want)

He struggled to find the right word.

▪ a German/Italian etc word

Prosciutto is the Italian word for ham.

▪ a long word

She didn’t understand all the long words.

▪ a short word

a short word beginning with ‘d’ and ending with ‘g’

▪ big words (=words that sound very important or serious)

It scares me, when you use big words like that.

▪ a five-letter/nine-letter etc word

Can you think of a six-letter word meaning ‘difficult’?

▪ a rude word

Someone had written a rude word on the back of his chair.

▪ a swear word

He learned a few swear words on the playground.

▪ a dirty word (=a rude word)

You couldn’t say dirty words on television.

▪ a four-letter word (=a very rude word)

The programme was full of four letter words.

▪ a taboo word (=one that people are not allowed to use)

This has now become a taboo word.

■ verbs

▪ say/speak a word

She said the words ‘my husband’ in a firm voice.

▪ use a word

Be very careful how you use the word ‘natural’.

▪ pronounce a word

How do you pronounce this word?

▪ spell a word

I always find that word hard to spell.

▪ have a word

It is not true that Eskimos have more than forty words for snow.

▪ find the word (=succeed in thinking of the right word to use)

She couldn’t find the words to explain how she felt.

▪ search for words (=try to think of words to use)

She hesitated, searching for words.

▪ look up a word (=try to find it in a book)

I looked the word up in my dictionary.

• • •


▪ word a single group of letters that are used together with a particular meaning:

‘Casa’ is the Italian word for ‘house’.


I looked up the word in a dictionary.

▪ name a word that you use for a particular thing, place, organization etc:

Iberia is the ancient name for the Spanish Peninsula.


What’s the name of that type of dog?

▪ term a word or group of words that is used in a specific subject or area of language:

The medical term for losing your hair is ‘alopecia’.


People use the term ‘carbon footprint’ to talk about man’s polluting effect on the environment.

▪ phrase a group of words that have a particular meaning when used together, or which someone uses on a particular occasion:

We don’t really have a phrase for ‘bon appétit’ in English.


Politicians keep using the phrase ‘family values’.


an Italian phrase book

▪ expression a fixed phrase which is used in a language and has a particular meaning:

He uses a lot of obscure expressions that I don’t really understand.


What does the expression ‘wage slavery’ mean?

▪ buzzword /ˈbʌzwɜːd $ -wɜːrd/ a word or group of words that people in a particular type of work or activity have started using a lot because they think it is important:

E-learning is the buzzword in educational publishing at the moment.


For anthropologists, ethnodiversity has been a buzzword for quite a while.

▪ idiom /ˈɪdiəm/ a group of words that has a special meaning which you cannot guess from the meanings of each separate word:

‘Full of beans’ is an idiom which means feeling lively and energetic.

▪ cliché /ˈkliːʃeɪ $ kliːˈʃeɪ/ a group of words that is used so often that it seems rather boring, annoying, or silly:

It’s a bit of a cliché, but good communication skills are the key to success.


the old movie cliché ‘we can’t go on meeting like this’

▪ slang very informal words used especially by a particular group of people such as young people, criminals, or soldiers:

Grass is slang for marijuana.


prison slang


army slang

▪ jargon words and phrases used in a particular profession or by a particular group of people, which are difficult for other people to understand – often used to show disapproval:

The instructions were full of technical jargon.


complicated legal jargon

II. word 2 BrE AmE verb [transitive]

[ Word Family: adjective : ↑ worded , ↑ wordless , ↑ wordy ; noun : ↑ word , ↑ wording ; verb : ↑ word ]

to use words that are carefully chosen in order to express something SYN phrase :

How can we word the letter so as not to offend the parents?

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.