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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.



  1. Having a value of; proper to be exchanged for.
    My house now is worth double what I paid for it.
    Cleanliness is the virtue most worth having but one.
  2. Deserving of.
    I think you’ll find my proposal worth your attention.
    • 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, worth while.
  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.

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.
  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.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Old English weorþan, from Proto-Germanic *werþaną, from Proto-Indo-European *wert-. Cognate with Dutch worden, Low German warrn, German werden, Old Norse verða (Norwegian verta, Swedish varda), Latin vertere.


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) To be, become, betide.
    • 1611, Bible (KJV), Ezekiel 30:2:
      Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Howl ye, Woe worth the day!
    • 1843, Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, book 2, ch. 3, "Landlord Edmund"
      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.
    What's word of him now?
    Well worth thee, me friend
    . (May good fortune befall you, my friend)
Derived terms[edit]



Most common English words before 1923: evil · outside · beside · #695: worth · please · quiet · exclaimed




worth (comparative mair worth, superlative maist worth)

  1. Valuable, worth while.