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See also: Worth, worð, worþ, and -worth



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English worth, from Old English weorþ, from Proto-Germanic *werþaz (worthy, valuable); from Proto-Indo-European *wert-.

Cognate with Dutch waard (adjective), Low German weert (adjective), German wert, Wert, Swedish värd, Welsh gwerth, Ukrainian вартість (vartistʹ).


worth (not comparable)

  1. Having a value of; proper to be exchanged for.
    My house now is worth double what I paid for it.
    Cleanliness is a virtue worth more than others.
    A painting worth thousands.
  2. Deserving of.
    I think you’ll find my proposal worth your attention.
    His friendship is not worth having.
    • 2012 May 9, Jonathan Wilson, “Europa League: Radamel Falcao's Atlético Madrid rout Athletic Bilbao”, in the Guardian[1]:
      Two years after their first European trophy, Atlético were well worth their second.
  3. (obsolete, except in Scots) Valuable, worthwhile.
  4. Making a fair equivalent of, repaying or compensating.
    This job is hardly worth the effort.
Usage notes[edit]

The modern adjectival senses of worth compare two noun phrases, prompting some sources to classify the word as a preposition. Most, however, list it an adjective, some with notes like "governing a noun with prepositional force." Fowler's Modern English Usage says, "the adjective worth requires what is most easily described as an object."

Joan Maling (1983) shows that worth is best analysed as a preposition rather than an adjective. CGEL (2002) analyzes it as an adjective.


  • Organic strawberries are worth paying extra money for.
  • It's worth paying extra money for organic strawberries.

When "worth" is used as an adjective of a subject, the verb "to be" (usually associated with "worth") is singular or plural in accordance with the subject (in the first example, in the plural). In the other case, shown in the second example, the subject is the pronoun "it".

Derived terms[edit]


worth (countable and uncountable, plural worths)

  1. (countable) Value.
    I’ll have a dollar's worth of candy, please.
    They have proven their worths as individual fighting men and their worth as a unit.
    stocks having a worth of two million pounds
    • 2022 January 12, Tom Allett, “MPs concerned at Treasury's influence on rail industry”, in RAIL, number 948, page 13:
      The December 11 Telegraph story, which accused the Treasury of blocking plans for £30 billion worth of electrification across the rail network [...], has rung alarm bells over who is the real source of power concerning rail's development - the Department of Transport or the Treasury?
  2. (uncountable) Merit, excellence.
    Our new director is a man whose worth is well acknowledged.
    • 2012 September 7, Phil McNulty, “Moldova 0-5 England”, in BBC Sport[2]:
      Manchester United's Tom Cleverley impressed on his first competitive start and Lampard demonstrated his continued worth at international level in a performance that was little more than a stroll once England swiftly exerted their obvious authority.
  3. (uncountable) Wealth, fortune, riches, property, possessions.
    • 2018 July 19, “More than £1.2 million of Bitcoin seized from drug dealer”, in cps.gov.uk[3], London: Crown Prosecution Service, retrieved 2018-07-20:
      A drug dealer and money launderer who was using cryptocurrency to conceal his funds has had over £1.2 million worth of Bitcoins seized, restrained and then converted into British pounds in the first case of its kind.
  4. (uncountable) An amount that could be achieved or produced in a specified time.
    • 2020 November 18, “Network News: Lack of safety compliance a factor in Loughborough SPAD”, in Rail, page 25:
      Although most modern OTDR equipment can store at least eight days' worth of data (in line with current industry standards), when it was downloaded from the Class 57s involved, it was discovered they had stored just over eight hours' worth of data.
  5. (uncountable, obsolete) High social standing, noble rank.
    • 1593, anonymous, The Life and Death of Iacke Straw [], Act I:
      VVhat bee they men of any worth or no? []
      No my good Lord, they bee men of no great account,
      For they bee none but Tylers, Thatchers, Millers, and ſuch like.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English worthen, wurthen, werthen (to be; exist; come into being; come into existence), from Old English weorþan (to come into being; be made; become; arise; be), from Proto-West Germanic *werþan, from Proto-Germanic *werþaną (to come about; happen; come into being; become), from Proto-Indo-European *wert- (to turn; turn out).

Cognate with Dutch worden, Low German warrn, German werden, Old Norse verða (Norwegian verta, Swedish varda), Latin vertere.

Alternative forms[edit]


worth (third-person singular simple present worths, present participle worthing, simple past worth or worthed, past participle worth or worthed or worthen)

  1. (obsolete, except in set phrases or dialectal) To be, become, betide.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Ezekiel 30:2:
      Sonne of man, prophecie and say, Thus saith the Lord God, Howle ye, woe worth the day.
    • 1843 April, Thomas Carlyle, “ch. 3, Landlord Edmund”, in Past and Present, American edition, Boston, Mass.: Charles C[offin] Little and James Brown, published 1843, →OCLC, book II (The Ancient Monk):
      For, adds our erudite Friend, the Saxon weorthan equivalent to the German werden, means to grow, to become; traces of which old vocable are still found in the North-country dialects, as, ‘What is word of him?’ meaning ‘What is become of him?’ and the like. Nay we in modern English still say, ‘Woe worth the hour.’ [i.e. Woe befall the hour]
    Woe worth the man that crosses me.
    Well worth thee, me friend.
    (May good fortune befall you, my friend.)
Derived terms[edit]





From Old English weorþ.


worth (comparative mair worth, superlative maist worth)

  1. Valuable, worth while.