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From Middle English wardein, from Anglo-Norman wardein, Old Northern French wardein, from warder (to guard), variant of Old French guarder (to guard) (whence modern French garder, also English guard), from Proto-Germanic *ward-; related to Old High German wartēn (to watch). Compare guardian, French gardien, from Old French guardian, guardein. Compare also ward and reward. Doublet of guardian.



warden (plural wardens)

  1. (archaic or literary) A guard or watchman.
    • 1820, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, 4th American edition, Philadelphia: Thomas Desilver, 1823, Volume 2, Chapter 4,[1]
      He called to the wardens on the outside battlements. [The original (UK) editions read warders rather than wardens.]
  2. A chief administrative officer of a prison.
    • 1934, Nathanael West, A Cool Million, Chapter 7,[2]
      The warden of the state prison, Ezekiel Purdy, was a kind man if stern. He invariably made all newcomers a little speech of welcome []
  3. An official charged with supervisory duties or with the enforcement of specific laws or regulations; such as a game warden or air-raid warden
  4. A governing official in various institutions
    the warden of a college
  5. A variety of pear.
    • c. 1608, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, Cupid’s Revenge, Act II, Scene 1,[3]
      Faith I would have had him rosted like a warden in a brown Paper, and no more talk on’t:
    • c. 1610, William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, Act IV, Scene 3,[4]
      I must have saffron to colour the warden pies;
    • 1625, Francis Bacon, “Of Gardens” in Essays, London: Hanna Barret, p. 269,[5]
      In September, come Grapes; Apples; Poppies of all colours; Peaches; Melo-Cotones; Nectarines; Cornelians; Wardens; Quinces.
    • 1903, E. Bartrum, The Book of Pears and Plums, London: John Lane, p. 30,[6]
      Wardens, a name given to pears which never melt, are long keeping, and used for cooking only. The name comes from the Cistercian Abbey of Warden in Beds. Parkinson’s Warden is now Black Worcester. There are Spanish, White and Red Wardens.

Derived terms[edit]



warden (third-person singular simple present wardens, present participle wardening, simple past and past participle wardened)

  1. To carry out the duties of a warden.

See also[edit]