Meaning of “word” in the English Dictionary

"word" in English

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uk /wɜːd/ us /wɝːd/

word noun (LANGUAGE UNIT)

A1 [ C ] a single unit of language that has meaning and can be spoken or written:

Your essay should be no more than two thousand words long.
Some words are more difficult to spell than others.
What's the word for bikini in French?
It's sometimes difficult to find exactly the right word to express what you want to say.
the F-word, C-word, etc.

used to refer to a word, usually a rude or embarrassing one, by saying only the first letter and not the whole word:

You're still not allowed to say the F-word on TV in the US
So how's the diet going - or would you rather I didn't mention the d-word?

More examples

word noun (TALKING)

B2 [ S ] a short discussion or statement:

The manager wants a word.
Could I have a word (with you) about the sales figures?
Could you have a quiet word with Mike (= gently explain to him) about the problem?
words [ plural ]

angry words:

Both competitors had words (= argued) after the match.
Words were exchanged (= people argued) and then someone threw a punch.

disapproving discussion, rather than action:

So far there have been more words than action on the matter of childcare provision.
have/exchange words

to talk to each other for a short time:

We exchanged a few words as we were coming out of the meeting.
a good word

a statement of approval and support for someone or something:

If you see the captain could you put in a good word for me?
The critics didn't have a good word to say about the performance.

More examples

  • Could I have a word with you in private?
  • Incidentally, I wanted to have a word with you about your expenses claim.
  • Can I have a little word with you?
  • When you've got a minute, I'd like a brief word with you.
  • Could I have a quick word ?

word noun (NEWS)

[ U ] news or a message:

Has there been any word from Paul since he went to New York?
We got word of their plan from a former colleague.
Word of the discovery caused a stir among astronomers.

word noun (ORDER)

[ S ] an order:

We're waiting for the word from head office before making a statement.
The troops will go into action as soon as their commander gives the word.
At a word from their teacher, the children started to put away their books.

wordverb [ T usually + adv/prep ]

uk /wɜːd/ us /wɝːd/
adjective uk /ˈwɜː.dɪd/ us /ˈwɝː.dɪd/

(Definition of “word” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"word" in American English

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us /wɜrd/

word noun (LANGUAGE UNIT)

[ C ] a single unit of language that has meaning and can be spoken or written:

The word "environment" means different things to different people.
She spoke so fast I couldn’t understand a word (= anything she said).


[ C usually sing ] a brief discussion or statement:

Could I have a word with you?
Let me give you a word of advice.
Tell us what happened in your own words (= say it in your own way).

word noun (NEWS)

[ U ] news or a message:

We were excited when word of the discovery reached us.

word noun (PROMISE)

[ U ] a promise:

You have my word – I won’t tell a soul.
She wouldn't give me her word if she didn't mean to keep it.

word noun (ORDER)

[ C usually sing ] an order or request:

If you want me to leave, just say/give the word.
adjective [ not gradable ] us /ˈwɜrd·əd/

a strongly worded letter

word verb [ T always + adv/prep ] (LANGUAGE UNIT)

to choose the words with which to express something:

(Definition of “word” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"word" in Business English

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wordnoun [ C ]

uk /wɜːd/ us
words and figures differ

also words and figures do not agree BANKING, MONEY →  amounts differ

words per minute

→  wpm

(Definition of “word” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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Consequently, this report, which should have restricted itself to a single word – 'freedom' of the people's representatives – can be summed up with a different word: oligarchy.
A one-word answer will suffice.
As to public service, or even services of general interest, there is hardly a word, apart from some concern about citizens with disabilities.
Nobody said a word about that.
In a normal parliamentary democracy, the parliament has the right of initiative and also the last word on legislation, budget and the forming of coalitions.
One is to assist and support human rights, democratisation, civil society and democratic forces in the strict sense of the word.
I should like the word ‘and’ changed to ‘or’, so that this is the least of all possible reasons why a clearing and settlement service can refuse access.
The timing of opening negotiations will depend on the authorities’ commitment to tackling these issues in deed as well as in word.
Not a single word has been spoken about it: despite going much further – ten-year data protection – it evidently enjoys widespread approval.
We have to be clear in our own minds about that, for our keeping our word is another contribution to peace.