I was looking at dictionary meanings of the word 'ward'. What I expected (from encountering the word in RPG games) a meaning of 'magical shield or protective enchantment' or similar, but I didn't find any. Closest I found was 'part of the mechanism that prevents the wrong key from opening a lock'.

Is there a similar meaning of 'ward' in proper English?

Edit: I am referring to the lone word, as a noun.


2 Answers 2


Collins definition 8:

a means of protection

Does that fit what you are asking? I mean obviously this is not very specific. Also there is the phrasal verb to ward off, which means

Prevent from harming or affecting one


So you can see the two are connected. Ward is a very old word in English. See etymology online for its original meanings.

RPG games sometimes use older words such as ward to hearken back to the good old days of fighting and wenching. The magical part can come from warding something off, such as a vampire, by 'magical powers' inherent in garlic, mirrors, the cross etc. and an RPG could expand on that.

  • 'a means of protection' would indeed be very general; and I am not referring to an agent noun. More like a thing, that's lifeless. Like a wall or shield.
    – cst1992
    Jan 14, 2016 at 7:19
  • Maybe the word 'ward' meaning a borne child, stemmed from the second(verb) meaning, as the mother guards her young after birth till they are mature enough to be on their own.
    – cst1992
    Jan 14, 2016 at 7:22
  • 2
    I think GoDucks' definition is exactly the correct one. For example, an amulet to ward off the evil eye would be a means of protection against the evil eye. I'm not sure why you think "means of protection" is an agent noun, or why it would not be a lifeless thing.
    – stangdon
    Jan 14, 2016 at 12:47

Free dictionary has provided many definitions for the word "ward", out of which I found a few that fits your description :

Ward ( Archaic.) :
a. The act of guarding or protecting; guardianship.
b. The act of keeping watch or being a lookout.
c. The state of being under guard; custody.

Ward :
A defensive movement or attitude, especially in fencing; a guard.

These are the closest definition I found for the word "ward". You should explore a bit more in that link if you think none of the descriptions I've mentioned above fits your context.

  • And of course, it still appears with this meaning in the word 'wardrobe'. . .
    – peterG
    Aug 12, 2016 at 0:39

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