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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English reward, rewarde, from Old French reward (reward) (compare Old French regard, whence modern French regard, and also English regard through Middle French), from rewarder (to reward) (compare Old French reguarder), from re- + warder (to guard, keep) (compare Old French guarder); the Anglo-Norman forms are derived from Old Northern French variants of Old French, ultimately of Germanic (Frankish) origin. Compare regard, warden, guard. See more below.

Mostly displaced Old English mēd, whence Modern English meed. Displaced Old English lēan and edlēan.


reward (plural rewards)

  1. Something of value given in return for an act.
    For catching the thief, you'll get a nice reward.
    Synonyms: payment, recompense, tithing, meed
    Antonym: punishment
  2. A prize promised for a certain deed or catch
    The rewards for bringing in badly wanted criminals are printed on 'dead or alive' posters.
    Synonym: bounty
  3. The result of an action, whether good or bad.
    Is this the reward I get for telling the truth: to be put in jail?
    • 2013 January 22, Phil McNulty, “Aston Villa 2-1 Bradford (3-4)”, in BBC[1]:
      Christian Benteke's first-half goal was just reward for Villa's undoubted superiority but Bradford managed to survive without further damage until half-time, before scoring the goal that takes them to Wembley for the first time since 1996.
    Synonym: consequence

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English rewarden, from Anglo-Norman rewarder (to reward), from re- + warder (to guard, keep), from Old Northern French [Term?], from Frankish *wardōn (to guard, keep), from Proto-Germanic *wardōną (to guard, defend), from Proto-Indo-European *wer- (to cover, shelter, defend, guard, shut). Cognate with Old Saxon wardōn (to guard, provide for, protect), Old English weardian (to guard), Old High German wartēn (to watch, keep, look after). More at ward.

Displaced Old English lēanian. In this sense, displaced Old English ġieldan, whence Modern English yield.


reward (third-person singular simple present rewards, present participle rewarding, simple past and past participle rewarded)

  1. (transitive) To give a reward to or for.
    Why are you rewarding the child for misbehaving?
    Why are you rewarding that bad behaviour?
  2. (transitive) To recompense.
    Decorations are meant to reward the most meritous acts and services.
    • 2011 September 2, Phil McNulty, “Bulgaria 0-3 England”, in BBC:
      The Italian opted for Bolton's Cahill alongside captain John Terry - and his decision was rewarded with a goal after only 13 minutes. Bulgaria gave a hint of defensive frailties to come when they failed to clear Young's corner, and when Gareth Barry found Cahill in the box he applied the finish past Nikolay Mihaylov.
  3. (obsolete, transitive) To give (something) as a reward.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, “xxvj”, in Le Morte Darthur, book IV:
      Thenne syr Marhaus departed and within two dayes his damoysel brought hym where as was a grete tornement that the lady de Vawse has cryed
      And there syr Marhaus dyd so nobly that he was renomed
      & had somtyme doune fourty knyghtes
      and soo the serklet of gold was rewarded hym
      (please add an English translation of this quote)
    • Thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.
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