WARD, in composition, as in toward, homeward, is the Saxon weard, from the root of L.

WARD, v.t.

1. To guard; to deep in safety; to watch.

Whose gates he found fast shut, he living wight to ward the same--

[In this sense, ward is obsolete, as we have adopted the French of the same word, to guard. We now never apply ward to the thing to be defended, but always to the thing against which it is to be defended. We ward off a blow or dagger, and we guard a person or place.]

2. To defend; to protect.

Tell him it was a hand that warded him from thousand dangers. [Obs. See the remark, supra.]

3. To fend off; to repel; to turn aside any thing mischievous that approaches.

Now wards a falling blow, now strikes again.

The pointed javlin warded off his rage.

It instructs the scholar in the various methods of warding off the force of objections.

[This is the present use of ward. To ward off is now the more general expression, nor can I, with Johnson, think it less elegant.]

WARD, v.i.

1. To be vigilant; to keep guard.

2. To act on the defensive with a weapon.

She drove the stranger to no other shift, than to ward and go back.

And on their warding arms light bucklers bear.

WARD, n.

1. Watch; act of guarding.

Still when she slept, he kept both watch and ward.

2. Garrison; troops to defend a fort; as small wards left in forts. [Not in use.]

3. Guard made by a weapon in fencing.

For want of other ward, he lifted up his hand his front to guard.

4. A fortress; a strong hold.

5. One whose business is to guard, watch and defend; as a fire-ward.

6. A certain district, division or quarter of a town or city, committed to an alderman. There are twenty six wards in London.

7. Custody; confinement under guard. Pharaoh put his butler and baker in ward. Genesis 40.

8. A minor or person under the care of a guardian. See Blackstones chapter on the rights and duties of guardian and ward.

9. The state of a child under a guardian.

I must attend his majestys commands, to whom I am now in ward.

10. Guardianship; right over orphans.

It is convenient in Ireland, that the wards and marriages of gentlemens children should be in the disposal of any of those lords.

11. The division of a forest.

12. The division of a hospital.

13. A part of a lock which corresponds to its proper key.