Definition of ward in English:



  • 1A separate room in a hospital, typically one allocated to a particular type of patient.

    ‘a children's ward’
    as modifier ‘a ward nurse’
    • ‘In Wang's ward in the Haematology Division, only half of patients with cancer may survive.’
    • ‘Two studies have now been completed observing the care of terminally ill patients during their last six days of life in medical wards in two acute hospitals.’
    • ‘Yarmouk Hospital has one of the busiest emergency rooms and obstetrics wards in Baghdad.’
    • ‘Randomised controlled trial of usual care compared with intervention delivered on hospital wards by cardiac rehabilitation nurses.’
    • ‘Last week I stood outside a local school with a petition, people were shocked to hear what was happening and had not heard anything about the threatening closure of the children's ward.’
    • ‘He spent several days in intensive care recovering from the procedure but was moved into a specialist liver ward on Thursday where medical staff are encouraging him to regain his mobility.’
    • ‘In 1988, the first geriatric ward was set up in the GH, but even then, geriatric medicine enjoyed very little priority.’
    • ‘The need for the new predischarge ward arose in the context of attempting to address the shortage of bed accommodation in St. Luke's General Hospital.’
    • ‘Joan, who has worked at Blackburn Royal Infirmary since 1987 and on the children's surgical ward for the last nine years, said she was shocked but delighted by her windfall.’
    • ‘Three wards within the Great Western hospital are expected to remain closed until the end of the week, including the Saturn and Neptune medical wards and the Kingfisher trauma ward.’
    • ‘On top of this, more than 23,000 people, many from the North Cotswolds, have signed petitions in support of the Battledown children's ward in Cheltenham.’
    • ‘In the Renaissance Hospital, clinics and wards will be based on patient groups rather than medical specialties (table on website).’
    • ‘Semi-structured interviews took place in a private room in the hospital ward, usually within 12 hours after each restraint event.’
    • ‘Stepping back a generation, doctors were familiar with hospital wards full of patients succumbing to sepsis in the pre-penicillin era.’
    • ‘The Reddys are running for St Teresa's cardiology ward for infants in Our lady's Hopsital for Sick Children in Crumlin’
    • ‘Russell himself carried her to the nearby emergency ward, with her catsuit soaked through with champagne, make-up smeared across her face and blood pumping from her hand.’
    • ‘The options are likely to include the closure of the 26-bed Battledown ward at Cheltenham in favour of a 46-bed ward at Gloucester.’
    • ‘The psychiatrists and other medical staff avoided this ward, making only the bare minimum of calls and writing off the patients there as unsalvageable.’
    • ‘In the camp's acute ward, a young man lies chained to his bed, being fed protein-and-vitamin mush through a stomach tube inserted via a nostril.’
    • ‘You will then be taken back to the hospital ward where nurses will continue to monitor you until you leave the hospital.’
    room, compartment, department, unit, area
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 One of the divisions of a prison.
      • ‘Just come striding along the beach like a prison ward or something!’
      • ‘When they built the new prison a ward was set-aside for mentally impaired people, but even that seems to have become overcrowded.’
      • ‘The mother of Peter, a 23-year-old man whose currently in a maximum security prison ward in New South Wales.’
  • 2An administrative division of a city or borough that typically elects and is represented by a councilor or councilors.

    • ‘There are 54 councillors and all of us represent our wards and work hard for them.’
    • ‘‘I want to work with community groups in the ward, the city and the region,’ he says.’
    • ‘For a start, I would suggest that instead of having 52 or so councillors, that the number is cut down by half, with one councillor representing two wards.’
    • ‘The Madras Act IX of 1867 divided the city into eight wards, each represented by four Commissioners.’
    • ‘It is the first time in 23 years that all three city councillors in the ward have belonged to the same party.’
    • ‘The Liberal Democrat is the only councillor to represent Osbaldwick ward.’
    • ‘Councillor David Wilde, who has represented the Walmgate ward on the City of York Council for 20 years, served as the city's Lord Mayor in 1995.’
    • ‘The proposals would create a York Central Borough seat, made up of nine inner City of York Council wards.’
    • ‘Issues raised will be discussed by the relief road working group, made up of county councillors representing local wards, and the county council will enforce the changes.’
    • ‘Coun Perkins represents Claremont ward and was elected last May.’
    • ‘First there were ward officers - police officers responsible for a particular ward of the city who work with local communities to tackle local crime.’
    • ‘But that does not explain why the BNP went on to take six more seats at last week's elections in Burnley, where most wards were electing just one councillor.’
    • ‘Opposition to the closure of the Lister Baths at Featherstone contributed heavily to all three Labour councillors who had represented the ward losing their seats.’
    • ‘Councillor Royston Smith is deputy leader of Southampton City Council's Conservative group and represents the Harefield ward.’
    • ‘Membership of the committee is drawn from Bradford councillors representing wards in Keighley, Ilkley and surrounding villages in the Worth and Aire valleys.’
    • ‘Last week Lawlor failed to get elected as a councillor in a Clondalkin ward of the new Dublin mid-west constituency where he hopes to stand at the next general election.’
    • ‘Candidates for election will run in electoral districts, similar to city councillors' wards.’
    • ‘Four years ago he joined Lancaster City Council to represent the Overton ward as a Morecambe Bay Independent.’
    • ‘The case was brought after complaints from electors in the Bordesley Green and Aston wards of Birmingham city council that their votes had been stolen.’
    • ‘We called the offices of city councillors representing various downtown wards, and their staff readily acknowledged the litter problem.’
    district, constituency, division, quarter, zone, parish, community, department, canton
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 A territorial division of the Mormon Church presided over by a bishop.
      • ‘Bishop David Hamblin, the bishop for the ward, the Mormon church to which the Smart family belongs to.’
      • ‘Derek Cross fell in with the Mormons, rising through the ranks to become bishop of their ward.’
  • 3A person, usually a minor, under the care and control of a guardian appointed by their parents or a court.

    • ‘Open sea and clear skies was all very well when teaching a new crewmember the ropes and they never lost their fascination with the captain's young ward.’
    dependant, charge, protégé, pupil, trainee, apprentice
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1archaic Guardianship or the state of being subject to a guardian.
      ‘the ward and care of the Crown’
  • 4usually wardsAny of the internal ridges or bars in a lock which prevent the turning of any key which does not have grooves of corresponding form or size.

    1. 4.1 The corresponding grooves in the bit of a key.
  • 5archaic The action of keeping a lookout for danger.

    ‘I saw them keeping ward at one of those huge gates’
  • 6historical An area of ground enclosed by the encircling walls of a fortress or castle.

    • ‘Near to this original house, on a chalk hill, William I built a castle, with a ward either side of a low motte.’
    • ‘Some very strongly fortified castles of this class have an additional wall set a short distance out from the main enceinte and concentric with it, the area between the two walls being termed the outer ward.’
    • ‘The inner ward is a square enclosure with circular angle towers, with one bigger and separated by the walls forming the keep.’
    • ‘The first step was the walling of the early Norman ring work but today only little part of this work survives on the north-west walls of the upper ward, the section facing the outer bailey was demolished.’
  • 7Fencing
    A defensive position or motion.

    • ‘The first illustration show the two fencers in a low or terza ward with rapiers crossed.’
    • ‘Simultaneously the Master shall raise his rapier into the open ward.’


  • ward of the court

    • A person, usually a minor or of unsound mind, for whom a guardian has been appointed by a court or who has become directly subject to the authority of that court.

      • ‘The children were made wards of court and their parents were sent to Harmondsworth detention centre, where they pleaded for their lives in Britain.’
      • ‘The reason being that she was once a ward of court herself, explains Pauline Collins, who plays her.’
      • ‘All four children are now wards of court, so information about their whereabouts should be given to the Tipstaff, at the Royal Courts of Justice, in central London.’
      • ‘It had been necessary to make his younger children wards of court to prevent publicity.’
      • ‘The commission recommends making a person ineligible to serve as a trustee if they are under 18, a ward of court, adjudicated bankrupt, restricted from being a director of a company, or convicted of a crime.’
      • ‘What was sought to be done was to make them wards of court and then obtain orders in their welfare which would contradict the steps the Minister had taken.’
      • ‘Made wards of court, their two children remained free.’
      • ‘At one time it was believed that the mere publication of information about a ward of court was contempt of court.’
      • ‘Funds are held in trust by the courts for around 22,000 people, such as minors and wards of court, who have been awarded damages.’
      • ‘Two days later Flintshire County Council lodged an appeal to the Family Division of the High Court, sitting in Birmingham, to make the twins wards of court.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • ward someone/something off

    • Prevent someone or something from harming or affecting one.

      ‘she put up a hand as if to ward him off’
      • ‘In areas where apples were grown, it evolved into a ritual in which chants and dances were used to ward off evil spirits which it was believed would harm the trees.’
      • ‘Included are live demonstrations by a museum carver on how sailors depicted women on figureheads which, when placed on the bow of a ship, served to ward off harm at sea.’
      • ‘The veil was also believed to magically have the power to ward off surrounding evils that wish to harm the bride.’
      • ‘Practices included the use of talismans and incantations to ward off evil spirits, and ‘shamanic journeying’.’
      • ‘So far the red peppers appear to be an easy, cost-effective means of warding off pachyderms without harming them, Osborn says.’
      • ‘Armour is used to shield, but not solely to ward off physical harm.’
      • ‘Rue was hung from doorways and windows to ward off evil spirits and prevent them from entering the house.’
      • ‘I suppose it all depends on what sort of harm you want to ward off.’
      • ‘The archetypal souvenirs are ceramic tiles featuring the Evil Eye - a Turkish good luck charm designed to ward off evil spirits.’
      • ‘These behaviors generally are intended to ward off harm to the person with OCD or others.’
      fend off, drive back, keep off, stave off, repel, repulse, beat back, rout, put to flight, chase away
      parry, avert, deflect, block, turn aside, defend oneself against, guard against, evade, avoid, dodge
      avert, rebuff, rebut, keep at bay, keep at arm's length, fend off, stave off, oppose, resist, prevent, hinder, obstruct, impede, foil, frustrate, thwart, check, baulk, stop, head off
      View synonyms


Old English weard (in ward (sense 5 of the noun), also ‘body of guards’), weardian ‘keep safe, guard’, of Germanic origin; reinforced in Middle English by Old Northern French warde (noun), warder (verb) ‘guard’.