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See also: Ward, -ward, and -wards



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English ward, from Old English weard (keeper, watchman, guard, guardian, protector; lord, king; possessor), from Proto-Germanic *warduz (guard, keeper), from Proto-Indo-European *wer- (to heed, defend). Cognate with German Wart.


ward (plural wards)

  1. (archaic or obsolete) A warden; a guard; a guardian or watchman.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English ward, warde, from Old English weard (watching, ward, protection, guardianship; advance post; waiting for, lurking, ambuscade), from Proto-West Germanic *wardu, from Proto-Germanic *wardō (protection, attention, keeping), an extension of the stem *wara- (attentive) (English wary, beware), from Proto-Indo-European *wer- (to cover).

Cognate with German Warte (watchtower), warten (wait for); English guard is a parallel form which came via Old French.


ward (countable and uncountable, plural wards)

  1. Protection, defence.
    1. (obsolete) A guard or watchman; now replaced by warden.
    2. The action of a watchman; monitoring, surveillance (usually in phrases keep ward etc.)
    3. Guardianship, especially of a child or prisoner.
      • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, Book V:
        So forth the presoners were brought before Arthure, and he commaunded hem into kepyng of the conestabyls warde, surely to be kepte as noble presoners.
      • c. 1604–1605 (date written), William Shakespeare, “All’s VVell, that Ends VVell”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene i]:
        I must attend his majesty's command, to whom I am now in ward.
      • 1596 (date written; published 1633), Edmund Spenser, A Vewe of the Present State of Irelande [], Dublin: [] Societie of Stationers, [], →OCLC; republished as A View of the State of Ireland [] (Ancient Irish Histories), Dublin: [] Society of Stationers, [] Hibernia Press, [] [b]y John Morrison, 1809, →OCLC:
        It is also inconvenient, in Ireland, that the wards and marriages of gentlemen's children should be in the disposal of any of those lords.
    4. An enchantment or spell placed over a designated area or social unit, that prevents any tresspasser from entering; approaching; or even being able to locate said protected premises or demographic.
    5. (historical, Scots law) Land tenure through military service.
    6. (fencing) A guarding or defensive motion or position.
  2. A protected place, and by extension, a type of subdivision.
    1. An area of a castle, corresponding to a circuit of the walls.
      • 1942, Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Canongate, published 2006, page 149:
        Diocletian [] must certainly have derived some consolation from the grandeur of Aspalaton, the great arcaded wall it turned to the Adriatic, its four separate wards, each town size, and its seventeen watch-towers [].
      • 2000, George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords, Bantam, published 2011, page 78:
        With the castle so crowded, the outer ward had been given over to guests to raise their tents and pavilions, leaving only the smaller inner yards for training.
    2. A section or subdivision of a prison.
    3. An administrative division of a borough, city or council.
      On our last visit to Tokyo, we went to Chiyoda ward and visited the Emperor's palace.
    4. (UK) A division of a forest.
    5. (Mormonism) A subdivision of the LDS Church, smaller than and part of a stake, but larger than a branch.
    6. A part of a hospital, with beds, where patients reside.
      • 1961 November 10, Joseph Heller, “The Soldier in White”, in Catch-22 [], New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, →OCLC, page 168:
        Since sick people were apt to be present, he could not always depend on a lively young crowd in the same ward with him, and the entertainment was not always good.
      • 2011 December 16, Denis Campbell, “Hospital staff 'lack skills to cope with dementia patients'”, in Guardian[1]:
        Many hospitals have not taken simple steps to lessen the distress and confusion which dementia sufferers' often feel on being somewhere so unfamiliar – such as making signs large and easy to read, using colour schemes to help patients find their way around unfamiliar wards and not putting family mementoes such as photographs nearby.
  3. A person under guardianship.
    1. A minor looked after by a guardian.
      After the trial, little Robert was declared a ward of the state.
      • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter XXII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
        Not unnaturally, “Auntie” took this communication in bad part. Thus outraged, she showed herself to be a bold as well as a furious virago. Next day she found her way to their lodgings and tried to recover her ward by the hair of the head.
    2. (obsolete) An underage orphan.
  4. An object used for guarding.
    1. The ridges on the inside of a lock, or the incisions on a key.
Derived terms[edit]
  • Swahili: wodi

Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle English warden, from Old English weardian (to watch, guard, keep, protect, preserve; hold, possess, occupy, inhabit; rule, govern), from Proto-West Germanic *wardēn, from Proto-Germanic *wardōną, *wardāną (to guard), from Proto-Indo-European *wer- (to heed, defend). Doublet of guard.


ward (third-person singular simple present wards, present participle warding, simple past and past participle warded)

  1. (transitive) To keep in safety, to watch over, to guard.
  2. (transitive) To defend, to protect.
    • c. 1588–1593 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene i]:
      Tell him it was a hand that warded him
      From a thousand dangers.
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, John Florio, transl., Essays, II.3:
      they went to ſeeke their owne death, and ruſhed amidſt the thickeſt of their enemies, with an intention, rather to ſtrike, than to ward themſelves.
  3. (transitive) To fend off, to repel, to turn aside, as anything mischievous that approaches (usually followed by off)
    • c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. [] The First Part [], 2nd edition, part 1, London: [] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, [], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire; London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, Act I, scene ii:
      Draw forth thy ſword, thou mightie man at armes,
      Intending but to raiſe my charmed ſkin:
      And Ioue himſelfe will ſtretch his hand from heauen,
      To ward the blow, and ſhield me ſafe from harme, []
    • 1609, Samuel Daniel, The Civile Wares:
      Now wards a felling blow, now strikes again.
    • 1717, Joseph Addison, Metamorphoses
      The pointed javelin warded off his rage.
    • 1741, I[saac] Watts, The Improvement of the Mind: Or, A Supplement to the Art of Logick: [], London: [] James Brackstone, [], →OCLC:
      It instructs the scholar in the various methods of warding off the force of objections.
  4. (intransitive) To be vigilant; to keep guard.
  5. (intransitive) To act on the defensive with a weapon.
Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]






  1. Archaic form of wurde, the first/third-person singular preterite of werden
    • Genesis 1:3
      Und Gott sprach: »Es werde Licht!« Und es ward Licht.
      And God said: "Let there be light." And there was light.
    • 1918, Heinrich Mann, Der Untertan[2], Leipzig: Kurt Wolff Verlag, page 477:
      Wohingegen Diederich von tiefem Wohlgefallen erfüllt ward durch die Teckel des Kaisers, die vor den Schleppen der Hofdamen keine Achtung zu haben brauchten.
      (please add an English translation of this quote)

Usage notes[edit]

  • This form was still common, though formal, until the first half of the 20th century. Since then it has become archaic and is now no longer part of normal standard German. It may still be met with in archaicizing poetic language, including popular stock phrases such as und ward nicht mehr gesehen (and was never seen again).

Further reading[edit]

  • ward” in Duden online


5 terms


From Arabic وَرْد(ward).



ward m (collective, singulative warda, dual wardtajn or wardtejn, plural urad or uradi or urud or uradijiet, paucal wardiet)

  1. rose, roses

Derived terms[edit]



Borrowed from English ward.


ward m (genitive singular ward, plural wardyn)

  1. ward (in a hospital)

Old High German[edit]



  1. first/third-person singular past indicative of werdan