What's the difference of pronunciation of words 'ward' and 'word'?

I searched them in the dictionary, and

(link: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ward)

word sounds like '\ˈwərd\', and ward sounds like \ˈwȯrd\

But I'm not sure how I can make different sound.

Could you give me any tip about this?

(I try to speak 'word' more strongly, then I felt like it sounds close to 'world')

  • 1
    There are accents where the difference is rather minimal like Boston.
    – JB King
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 16:16
  • 1
    The pronunciations of syllables with post-vocalic 'r' vary a lot from region to region.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 23:14
  • In IPA terms, "ward" has /ɔ/ and "word" has /ɝ/. "word" does not have a schwa. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 1:00

2 Answers 2


Try this for word

Bird with a w instead of a b, w+ird

Some guidance, Bird Is The Word by the Trashmen, can be found here

and this for ward

War (as in battle) with a guttural d (as in down) at the end, war+d

These pronunciations are for a flat accent sometimes termed newscaster or General American, there can be regional differences but this is the most basic.


This may come as a totally inappropriate method to teach you how to pronounce 'ward', but I'll try and attempt it anyhow.

Do you know the legendary Aussie cricketer Steve Waugh ? Now just pronounce 'Waugh-ed'. That is close to the actual pronunciation of 'ward'.

The pronunciation of 'word' shouldn't be a problem and I'm sure its pretty easy for you. It sounds very similar to 'world', just avoid the "L" sound.

Words that sound like 'ward' that can help you how to pronounce it : wand, Vaughan(another cricketer to the rescue).

  • Could you add a note about which region's pronunciation you're describing here?
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 23:17

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