Byword meaning

bīwûrd
Frequency:
Someone or something that stands (metonymically) for something else, by having some of that something's characteristic traits; byspel.
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One that represents a type, class, or quality.
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An object of notoriety or interest.

The eccentric poet was a byword in literary circles.

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An epithet.
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A familiar saying; proverb.
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A person or thing proverbial for some quality.
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An object of scorn or ridicule.
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A favorite or pet word or phrase.
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A proverb or proverbial expression, common saying; a frequently used word or phrase.
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(by extension) An object of scorn or derision.
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Origin of byword

  • Middle English byworde from Old English bīword translation of Latin prōverbium

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • From Middle English byworde (“proverb”), from Old English bīword, bīwyrde (“proverb, household word", also "adverb”), from bī- (“by-”) + word (“word”); probably a translation of Latin proverbium. Compare also Old High German pīwurti (“proverb”), Old English bīspel (“proverb, example”), bīcwide (“byword, proverb, tale, fable”). More at byspel.

    From Wiktionary