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[gild] /gɪld/
an organization of persons with related interests, goals, etc., especially one formed for mutual aid or protection.
any of various medieval associations, as of merchants or artisans, organized to maintain standards and to protect the interests of its members, and that sometimes constituted a local governing body.
Botany. a group of plants, as parasites, having a similar habit of growth and nutrition.
Also, gild.
before 1000; Middle English gild(e) < Old Norse gildi guild, payment; replacing Old English gegyld guild; akin to German Geld money, Gothic -gild tax
Can be confused
gild, gilt, guild, guilt. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for guild
  • The guild collection includes all types of furniture and accessories.
  • Administration costs rising, more pork for the guild.
  • Membership of a caste, as of a guild or a church, provides businessmen with a useful network.
  • Everywhere now the medical student is welcomed as an honored member of the guild.
  • Let us buy our entrance to this guild by a long probation.
  • They now belong to a different guild, are answerable to different requirements and have different objectives.
  • You're either part of the faculty guild, with attendant rights, or you're a serf.
  • Ah medicine, one of those quaint anachronisms which manage to cling to power by charging a large entrance fee to the guild.
  • Most of the mechanisms in place for the implementation of pessimism are known only to members of the guild.
  • He must find ways around the unions' guild mentality if he wanted to put poor teenagers to work and to rebuild the cities.
British Dictionary definitions for guild


an organization, club, or fellowship
(esp in medieval Europe) an association of men sharing the same interests, such as merchants or artisans: formed for mutual aid and protection and to maintain craft standards or pursue some other purpose such as communal worship
(ecology) a group of plants, such as a group of epiphytes, that share certain habits or characteristics
Word Origin
C14: of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse gjald payment, gildi guild; related to Old English gield offering, Old High German gelt money
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 guild

early 13c., yilde (spelling later influenced by Old Norse gildi "guild, brotherhood"), a semantic fusion of Old English gegyld "guild" and gild, gyld "payment, tribute, compensation," from Proto-Germanic *gelth- "pay" (cf. Old Frisian geld "money," Old Saxon geld "payment, sacrifice, reward," Old High German gelt "payment, tribute;" see yield (v.)).

The connecting sense is of a tribute or payment to join a protective or trade society. But some see the root in its alternative sense of "sacrifice," as if in worship, and see the word as meaning a combination for religious purposes, either Christian or pagan. The Anglo-Saxon guilds had a strong religious component; they were burial societies that paid for masses for the souls of deceased members as well as paying fines in cases of justified crime. The continental custom of guilds of merchants arrived after the Conquest, with incorporated societies of merchants in each town or city holding exclusive rights of doing business there. In many cases they became the governing body of a town (cf. Guildhall, which came to be the London city hall). Trade guilds arose 14c., as craftsmen united to protect their common interest.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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