/werrd/ , n.
1. a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning. Words are composed of one or more morphemes and are either the smallest units susceptible of independent use or consist of two or three such units combined under certain linking conditions, as with the loss of primary accent that distinguishes blackbird from black bird. Words are usually separated by spaces in writing, and are distinguished phonologically, as by accent, in many languages.
2. words ,
a. speech or talk: to express one's emotion in words; Words mean little when action is called for.
b. the text or lyrics of a song as distinguished from the music.
c. contentious or angry speech; a quarrel: We had words and she walked out on me.
3. a short talk or conversation: Marston, I'd like a word with you.
4. an expression or utterance: a word of warning.
5. warrant, assurance, or promise: I give you my word I'll be there.
6. news; tidings; information: We received word of his death.
7. a verbal signal, as a password, watchword, or countersign.
8. an authoritative utterance, or command: His word was law.
9. Also called machine word . Computers. a string of bits, characters, or bytes treated as a single entity by a computer, particularly for numeric purposes.
10. ( cap. ) Also called the Word, the Word of God .
a. the Scriptures; the Bible.
b. the Logos.
c. the message of the gospel of Christ.
11. a proverb or motto.
12. 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.
13. be as good as one's word , to hold to one's promises.
14. eat one's words , to retract one's statement, esp. with humility: They predicted his failure, but he made them eat their words.
15. have a word , to talk briefly: Tell your aunt that I would like to have a word with her.
16. have no words for , to be unable to describe: She had no words for the sights she had witnessed.
17. in a word , in summary; in short: In a word, there was no comparison. Also, in one word .
18. in so many words , in unequivocal terms; explicitly: She told them in so many words to get out.
19. keep one's word , to fulfill one's promise: I said I'd meet the deadline, and I kept my word.
20. man of his word or woman of her word , a person who can be trusted to keep a promise; a reliable person.
21. of few words , laconic; taciturn: a woman of few words but of profound thoughts.
22. of many words , talkative; loquacious; wordy: a person of many words but of little wit.
23. 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 .
24. take one at one's word , to take a statement to be literal and true.
25. take the words out of one's mouth , to say exactly what another person was about to say.
26. 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.
27. to express in words; select words to express; phrase: to word a contract with great care.
28. my word! or upon my word! (used as an exclamation of surprise or astonishment.)
[ bef. 900; ME, OE; c. D woord, G Wort, ON orth, Goth waurd; akin to OPruss wirds, L verbum word, Lith vardas name ]
Syn. 4. statement, declaration. 5. pledge. 6. message, report, account. 7. catchword, shibboleth.