Language: Old English


1 noun
word1 S1 W1

unit of language

[countable] the smallest unit of language that people can understand if it is said or written on its own:
Write an essay of about five hundred words.
I know the tune, but not the words.
'Vater' is the German word for (=word that means) 'father'.
Perhaps 'lucky' is not exactly the right word.
search for/find etc a word (=try to choose words that express what you want to say)
She was having difficulty finding the right words to tell him.
buzzword, four-letter word, swear word

somebody's words

the things that someone says or writes:
Those are his words, not mine.
in somebody's words
Jones was, in the judge's words, 'an evil man'.
In your own words, explain the term 'personal service'.

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?

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 more than two words since you got here.

put your feelings/thoughts etc into words

to express what you want to say clearly:
He found it difficult to put ideas into words.

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.

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.


[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.

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.

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.
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)

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

in a word

used before giving a very simple answer or explanation:
We are, in a word, busy. Ridiculously busy.

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.

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 was angry and said so in as many words.

take the words (right) out of somebody's mouth

spoken if someone takes the words out of your mouth, they have just said what you were going to say

put words into somebody'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.

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.

(right) from the word go

spoken from the beginning of something:
The marriage was a disaster from the word go.

too silly/complicated/ridiculous etc for words

spoken extremely silly, complicated etc:
His behaviour has been too pathetic for words.

(have/drop) a word in somebody'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.

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.

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.

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.


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

(Upon) my word!

spoken old-fashioned used when you are very surprised:
My word! Hasn't she grown?

surprised/angry/pleased etc isn't the word for it

spoken used to say you are extremely surprised, angry etc

a man/woman etc of few words

someone who does not say very much:
My father was a man of few words.

the Word (of God)

RRC the religious ideas and messages in the Bible

➔ eat your words

at eat (3), four-letter word

; ➔ a good word for somebody/something

at good1 (31)

; ➔ in other words

at other (11)

; ➔ be the last word in something

at last1 (10)

; ➔ be lost for words

at lost2 (10)

; ➔ mark my words

at mark2 (12)

; ➔ not mince your words

at mince1 (3)

; ➔ play on words

at play2 (6)

; ➔ say the word

at say1 (26)

; ➔ the spoken word

at spoken2 (2)

; ➔ the written word

at written2 (3)

Dictionary results for "word"
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