Etymology: Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German wort word, Latin verbum, Greek eirein to say, speak, Hittite weriya- to call, name
Date: before 12th century
a. something that is said
(1) talk, discourse <putting one's feelings into words> (2) the text of a vocal musical composition c. a brief remark or conversation <would like to have a word with you> 2. a. (1) a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning usually without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use (2) the entire set of linguistic forms produced by combining a single base with various inflectional elements without change in the part of speech elements b. (1) a written or printed character or combination of characters representing a spoken word <the number of words to a line> — sometimes used with the first letter of a real or pretended taboo word prefixed as an often humorous euphemism <the first man to utter the f word on British TV — Time> <we were not afraid to use the d word and talk about death — Erma Bombeck> (2) any segment of written or printed discourse ordinarily appearing between spaces or between a space and a punctuation mark c. a number of bytes processed as a unit and conveying a quantum of information in communication and computer work 3. order, command <don't move till I give the word> 4. often capitalized a. Logos b. gospel 1a c. the expressed or manifested mind and will of God 5. a. news, information <sent word that he would be late> b. rumor 6. the act of speaking or of making verbal communication 7. saying, proverb 8. promise, declaration <kept her word> 9. a quarrelsome utterance or conversation — usually used in plural <they had words and parted> 10. a verbal signal ; password 11. slang — used interjectionally to express agreement II. verb Date: 13th century intransitive verb archaic speak transitive verb to express in words ; phrase <a carefully worded reply>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.