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world definition


This page has 25 definitions of world in English and Middle English. World is a noun and verb. Examples of how to use world in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

See also: World

English world definition

Alternative forms

  • vurld (Bermuda)


From Middle English world, weoreld, from Old English weorold (world), from Proto-West Germanic *weraldi, from Proto-Germanic *weraldiz (lifetime, human existence, world, literally age/era of man), equivalent to wer (man) +‎ eld (age).

Cognate with Scots warld (world), Saterland Frisian Waareld (world), West Frisian wrâld (world), Afrikaans wêreld (world), Dutch wereld (world), Low German Werld (world), German Welt (world), Norwegian Bokmål verden (world), Norwegian Nynorsk verd (world), Swedish värld (world), Icelandic veröld (the world).



world (countable and uncountable, plural worlds)

  1. (with "the" or a plural possessive pronoun) The subjective human experience, regarded collectively; human collective existence; existence in general.
    In retrospect, the process of economic globalization has meant the end of the world as we knew it.
    There will always be lovers, till the world’s end.
    Synonym: (proper noun with alternative capitalization) World
  2. (with "the" or a singular possessive pronoun) The subjective human experience, regarded individually.
    The period immediately following my divorce seemed like the end of my world.
    He was my world! [said of a slain companion]
    • 1922, Michael Arlen, “Ep./4/2”, in “Piracy”: A Romantic Chronicle of These Days:
      The world was awake to the 2nd of May, but Mayfair is not the world, and even the menials of Mayfair lie long abed. As they turned into Hertford Street they startled a robin from the poet's head on a barren fountain, and he fled away with a cameo note.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 9, in The China Governess[1]:
      Eustace gaped at him in amazement. When his urbanity dropped away from him, as now, he had an innocence of expression which was almost infantile. It was as if the world had never touched him at all.
    • 2013 June 1, “Towards the end of poverty”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8838, page 11:
      America’s poverty line is $63 a day for a family of four. In the richer parts of the emerging world $4 a day is the poverty barrier. But poverty’s scourge is fiercest below $1.25 ([…]): people below that level live lives that are poor, nasty, brutish and short.
  3. (metonymically, with "the") A majority of people.
    Running after God is the only life worth living. Even though the world believes that living for God is boring, we believe that there is nothing more exciting.
  4. The Universe.
  5. (uncountable, with "the") The Earth, especially in a geopolitical or cultural context.
    Synonyms: the earth, Earth, the globe, God's green earth, Sol III
    People are dying of starvation all over the world.
    “As the world turns, we know the bleakness of winter, the promise of spring, the fullness of summer and the harvest of autumn–the cycle of life is complete.” - quotation attributed to Irna Phillips.
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      Serene, smiling, enigmatic, she faced him with no fear whatever showing in her dark eyes. [] She put back a truant curl from her forehead where it had sought egress to the world, and looked him full in the face now, drawing a deep breath which caused the round of her bosom to lift the lace at her throat.
    • 2013 May-June, William E. Conner, “An Acoustic Arms Race”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, pages 206–7:
      Earless ghost swift moths become “invisible” to echolocating bats by forming mating clusters close [] above vegetation and effectively blending into the clutter of echoes that the bat receives from the leaves and stems around them. Many insects probably use this strategy, which is a close analogy to crypsis in the visible world—camouflage and other methods for blending into one’s visual background.
    • 2018, VOA Learning English > China's Melting Glacier Brings Visitors, Adds to Climate Concerns[2]:
      She says the Third Pole is one of the world’s largest sources of fresh drinking water.
  6. (countable) A planet, especially one which is inhabited or inhabitable.
    Our mission is to travel the galaxy and find new worlds.
    • 1970, Larry Niven, Ringworld, page 118:
      Yet every world should have at least one unclimbable mountain.
    • 2007 September 27, Marc Rayman (interviewee), “NASA's Ion-Drive Asteroid Hunter Lifts Off”, National Public Radio:
      I think many people think of asteroids as kind of little chips of rock. But the places that Dawn is going to really are more like worlds.
    1. (by extension) Any other astronomical body which may be inhabitable, such as a natural satellite.
  7. A very large extent of country.
    the New World
  8. In various mythologies, cosmologies, etc., one of a number of separate realms or regions having different characteristics and occupied by different types of inhabitants.
    • 2017, Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology, Bloomsbury Publishing, page 182:
      Frey [...] clambered up on to the Hildskjalf, the throne from which Odin could see everything that happened across the nine worlds.
  9. A fictional realm, such as a planet, containing one or multiple societies of beings, especially intelligent ones.
    the world of Narnia; the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; a zombie world
  10. An individual or group perspective or social setting.
    Synonym: circle
    In the world of boxing, good diet is all-important.
    Welcome to my world.
    • 2013 June 8, “Obama goes troll-hunting”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8839, page 55:
      According to this saga of intellectual-property misanthropy, these creatures [patent trolls] roam the business world, buying up patents and then using them to demand extravagant payouts from companies they accuse of infringing them. Often, their victims pay up rather than face the costs of a legal battle.
  11. (computing) The part of an operating system distributed with the kernel, consisting of the shell and other programs.
  12. (video games) A subdivision of a game, consisting of a series of stages or levels that usually share a similar environment or theme.
    Have you reached the boss at the end of the ice world?
    There's a hidden warp to the next world down this pipe.
  13. (tarot) The twenty-second trump or major arcana card of the tarot.
  14. (informal, singular or plural, followed by "of") A great amount.
    Taking a break from work seems to have done her a world of good.
    You're going to be in a world of trouble when your family finds out.
    That new wallpaper has made worlds of difference downstairs.
    This movie isn't even billed as a comedy, but it's worlds funnier than the comedy I saw last month.
  15. (archaic) Age, era.


Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.


world (third-person singular simple present worlds, present participle worlding, simple past and past participle worlded)

  1. To consider or cause to be considered from a global perspective; to consider as a global whole, rather than making or focussing on national or other distinctions; compare globalise.
    • 1996, Jan Jindy Pettman, Worlding Women: A feminist international politics, page ix-x:
      There are by now many feminisms (Tong, 1989; Humm, 1992). [...] They are in shifting alliance or contest with postmodern critiques, which at times seem to threaten the very category 'women' and its possibilities for a feminist politics. These debates inform this attempt at worlding women—moving beyond white western power centres and their dominant knowledges (compare Spivak, 1985), while recognising that I, as a white settler-state woman, need to attend to differences between women, too.
    • 2005, James Phillips, Heidegger's Volk: Between National Socialism and Poetry, Stanford University Press, →ISBN:
      In a sense, the dictatorship was a failure of failure and, on that account, it was perhaps the exemplary system of control. Having in 1933 wagered on the worlding of the world in the regime's failure, Heidegger after the war can only rue his opportunistic hopes for an exposure of the ontological foundations of control.
  2. To make real; to make worldly.

See also

Further reading


Middle English world definition

Alternative forms


Inherited from Old English woruld, worold, from Proto-West Germanic *weraldi, from Proto-Germanic *weraldiz.



world (plural worldes)

  1. The world, the planet (i.e., Earth)
  2. A dimension, realm, or existence, especially human existence.
  3. The trappings and features of human life.
    • c. 1340, Dan Michel, “Vridom”, in Ayenbite of Inwyt[4], page 86:
      Ac hy habbeþ hire heꝛten zuo areꝛed ine god: þet hi ne pꝛayſeþ þe woꝛdle: bote ane botoun. and hi ne dredeþ kyng. ne eꝛl. []
      But those who have their hearts inspired by God, who don't praise the world('s ways) even a bit and who don't fear kings, earls, []
  4. The political entities of the world.
  5. The people of the world, especially when judging someone.
  6. An age, era or epoch.
  7. The universe, the totality of existence.

Related terms