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[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.
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Examples from the web for byword
  • Iwo became a byword for fighting while it was still being fought.
  • The industry became a byword for mendacity, secrecy and profligacy with taxpayers' money.
  • It was a surprising appointment for a company that was then a byword for conformity.
  • It has become a byword for spiralling costs and delays.
  • Once a byword for famine, it is now the world's tenth-largest producer of livestock.
  • Barzun's breadth of erudition has been a byword among friends and colleagues for six decades.
  • Though family-friendly still is a travel-industry byword, hotels and resorts also are catering to adults who want their own space.
  • Rustic elegance is the byword for this resort with plenty of activities to keep you interested.
  • Veterans' hospitals used to be a byword for second-rate care or worse.
  • Social promotion has now become the byword for people to show for politicians to show their support.
British Dictionary definitions for byword


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
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Word Origin and History for byword

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
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