- word (n.)
- Old English word "speech, talk, utterance, sentence, statement, news, report, word," from Proto-Germanic *wurdan (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian word, Dutch woord, Old High German, German wort, Old Norse orð, Gothic waurd), from PIE *were- (3) "speak, say" (see verb).
The meaning "promise" was in Old English, as was the theological sense. In the plural, the meaning "verbal altercation" (as in to have words with someone) dates from mid-15c. Word processor first recorded 1971; word processing is from 1972; word wrap is from 1977. A word to the wise is from Latin phrase verbum sapienti satis est "a word to the wise is enough." Word-for-word is late 14c. Word of mouth is recorded from 1550s.
It is dangerous to leave written that which is badly written. A chance word, upon paper, may destroy the world. Watch carefully and erase, while the power is still yours, I say to myself, for all that is put down, once it escapes, may rot its way into a thousand minds, the corn become a black smut, and all libraries, of necessity, be burned to the ground as a consequence. [William Carlos Williams, "Paterson"]
- word (v.)
- c. 1200, "to utter;" 1610s, "put into words," from word (n.). Related: Worded; wording.