1 (C) the smallest unit of language that people can understand if it is said or written on its own: Write an essay of about five hundred words. | There were a lot of words in the film I couldn't understand. | It's not a word I often use. | I know the tune, but not the words. | a word for (=a word that means): “Casa” is the Italian word for house. | sb's words (=what someone says): Those are the editor's words, not mine. | in your own words: Tell us exactly what happened in your own words.
2 not believe/hear/understand a word to not believe etc what someone says or writes: He says he played in a jazz group, but I don't believe a word of it. | Stuart didn't understand a word of that stuff on genetics either. | Can you speak up, we can't hear a word.
3 put your feelings into words to express what you want to say clearly: I'm not very good at putting my feelings into words, but I'll try to explain.
4 find the words to choose the words that express your feelings or ideas clearly: She only wished she could find the words to express her affection for the old man.
5 have a word (with) especially spoken to talk to someone quickly, especially because you need their advice about something or you want to tell them to do something: Could I have a word with you after the meeting. | have/exchange a few words (=have a short conversation) | have a quick/brief word (with) (=have a short conversation): We managed to have a quick word before the others arrived.
6 want a (little) word spoken to want to speak to someone, especially in order to criticize or warn them: The boss wants a little word with you.
7 a word/a few words a short talk for a particular purpose: a word of advice/warning/encouragement etc: Could you give the boys a few words of encouragement?
8 not say/breathe a word to not say anything about something to anyone because it is a secret: Don't say a word about the party to Dad.
9 have/drop a word in sb's ear to say something to someone privately especially in order to arrange something that would otherwise have been difficult: Don't worry - I've dropped a word in his ear - everything's settled.
10 have/exchange words (with) an expression meaning to quarrel, used to avoid saying this directly: I saw Gwen after the meeting. We had words.
11 (singular, uncountable) a piece of news or a message: word gets out/around (=people hear about something): If word of the Royal visit gets out, we'll have the press here in force. | The word is (that)/word has it (that) (=people are saying that): The word is that Ben is leaving after Christmas. | no word from: There's been no word from Susan since July. | send/bring word (=send or bring a message): The mayor sent word he'd be late. | spread/pass the word (=tell other people the news)
12 the last/final word
a) the power to decide whether or how to do something: The final word rests with the board. | have the last/final word: My boss has the final word on hiring staff.
b) the last statement or speech in a discussion or argument: have the last/final word: Why must you always have the last word in any argument?
13 (countable usually singular) an order to do something: On the word `go' I want you to start running. | give the word: Captain Rix gave the word and we moved forward.
14 my/sb's word a sincere promise: give sb your word (=promise someone very sincerely that you will do something) | keep your word: Gail kept her word and returned all the money. | be as good as your word (=do exactly what you have promised to do) | a man of his word/woman of her word (=a man or woman who does what they have promised to do)
15 take sb at their word to choose to believe what someone has said even though it is possible they do not mean it: Geoff said we could call him any time, so let's take him at his word.
16 take my word for it spoken used to say that someone should accept what you say as true: The business is doing very well. You can take my word for it.
17 in other words used to introduce a simpler explanation or version of something you have said: In other words, the objective is to avoid losing. | The woman has stopped going through her monthly cycle, in other words she is pregnant.
18 in a word used to introduce a very simple answer or explanation: “Did you enjoy the film?” “In a word - no.”
19 in as many words/not in so many words in a clear direct way or not in a clear direct way: “Did Kathy say she liked him?” “Not in so many words.” | Aunt Fay was angry and said so in as many words.
20 word for word
a) in exactly the same words: The newspaper printed his speech more or less word for word.
b) also word by word if you translate a piece of writing from a foreign language word for word, you translate the meaning of each single word rather than the meaning of a whole phrase or sentence
21 take the words (right) out of sb's mouth spoken if someone takes the words out of your mouth, they have just said what you were going to say
22 put words into sb's mouth spoken to suggest falsely that someone has said a particular thing: Will you stop putting words into my mouth - I never said I disliked the job.
23 too silly/ridiculous/stupid etc for words spoken very silly, ridiculous etc
24 put in a (good) word for sb to praise someone or suggest them for a particular job: Can you put in a good word for me with the Marketing Manager?
25 words fail me spoken used to say that you are so surprised, angry, or shocked that you do not know what to say: I ... words fail me.
26 (Upon) my word! old-fashioned spoken used to say you are very surprised because something unusual has happened
27 tired/angry/pleased isn't the word for it spoken used to say you are extremely tired or angry etc
28 the last word in comfort/luxury/elegance etc the most comfortable or luxurious etc thing of its type: a kitchen that is the last word in luxury
29 by word of mouth if information or news comes to you by word of mouth, someone tells you instead of you reading about it or seeing an advertisement
30 never have a good word to say for sb spoken if you never have a good word to say for someone, you never praise them even if they do something well
31 get a word in edgeways also edgewise AmE informal to get a chance to speak: Once Terry starts talking it's difficult to get a word in edgeways.
32 the Word (of God) the religious teachings in the Bible
33 from the word go spoken from the beginning: Lena was against me from the word go.
—see also: eat your words eat (8), four­letter word, mark my words mark 1 (9), not mince your words mince 1 (3), play on words play 2 (8), say the word say 1 (28) 2 verb (T) to use words that are carefully chosen in order to express something: The final version was worded in general terms.

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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