Try Our Apps


Supposedly vs. Supposably


[bahy-wurd] /ˈbaɪˌwɜrd/
a word or phrase associated with some person or thing; a characteristic expression, typical greeting, or the like.
a word or phrase used proverbially; common saying; proverb.
an object of general reproach, derision, scorn, etc.:
His crimes will make him a byword through the ages.
an epithet, often of scorn.
Origin of byword
before 1050; Middle English biworde, Old English biwyrde. See by1 (adj.), word
1. slogan, motto. 2. maxim, apothegm, aphorism, saw, adage. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for by-word
Historical Examples
  • But, no; I would not have a scandal afloat, even though I was becoming the laughingstock and by-word of my servants!

    The Sapphire Cross George Manville Fenn
  • Byron had a club foot in his mind, and so Byron is a by-word.

    The Green Carnation Robert Smythe Hichens
  • My dun was a peaceful beast, but the roan was a by-word in the sub-division.

    In the Ranks of the C.I.V. Erskine Childers
  • The word had been in use so frequently that it had become a by-word among the students.

    Hester's Counterpart Jean K. Baird
  • The true source of the Connecticut remained so long in doubt that it passed into a by-word.

  • Be sure that a by-word so compact as that was not one old woman's invention.

    Change in the Village (AKA George Bourne) George Sturt
  • I should return to Argos as a by-word, for the Achaeans will at once go home.

    The Iliad Homer
  • His honesty and loyalty were a by-word in the business district.

    Skinner's Dress Suit Henry Irving Dodge
  • The boys remarked that we were going back to water, and which has since been a by-word, whenever a countermarch has taken place.

    Our Battery Orlando P. Cutter
  • "Mr. Gladstone's collars" are a by-word in the land; and Mr. Furniss made them.

    The History of "Punch" M. H. Spielmann
British Dictionary definitions for by-word


a person, place, or thing regarded as a perfect or proverbial example of something: their name is a byword for good service
an object of scorn or derision
a common saying; proverb
Word Origin
Old English bīwyrde; see by, word; compare Old High German pīwurti, from Latin prōverbium proverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for by-word



also by-word, Old English biword "proverb," formed on the model of Latin proverbium or Greek parabole. Meaning "something that has become proverbial" is from 1530s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
by-word in the Bible

Hebrew _millah_ (Job 30:9), a word or speech, and hence object of talk; Hebrew _mashal_ (Ps. 44:14), a proverb or parable. When it denotes a sharp word of derision, as in Deut. 28:37, 1 Kings 9:7, 2 Chr. 7:20, the Hebrew _sheninah_ is used. In Jer. 24:9 it is rendered "taunt."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for byword

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for by

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for by-word