Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Meaning of Warden

Interesting information on the origins and meanings associated with the term "Warden".  What "is" a "warden"?  Where does it come from?

Warden: A Guardian or Keeper.  There is a connection between Ward and Guard, or Warden and Guardian.

A Ward is a guard or a "watch" or watcher.  A ward is a watcher or one who is being watched or under a guardian.  Hence a "Ward" of the State, or a prison Warden.

I find it interesting that the term Ward has as it's root "War" which is the Teutonic base meaning "to defend".  Thus words Ward, Wary, Warden, Guard, Guardian, are all associated or share the same roots, and refer to Guarding, Defending, Watching, and Keeping.  This shows the link between a "Ward-en" and a "Ste-Ward".  Each is a keeper, watcher, or Guard of some sort.

Below is source material from the excellent etymology website  The url is found here:

WARDEN,  (1) a guardian, keeper, (2) a kind of pear.   (F.,—M.H.G.)   Though the verb to ward is English, and so is its derivative warder, the sb. warden is F., as shewn by the suffix.   1. M.E. wardein, Ancren Riwle, p. 272, l. 4.O.F. wardein*, not given in Burguy, but necessarily the old spelling of O.F. gardein, gardain, a warden, guardian; since warder is given as the old spelling of garder.   Cf. Low Lat. gardianus, a guardian; shewing that O.F. wardein was formed from ward-er by help of the Lat. suffix -i-anus.   See Ward.   2. A warden was 'a large coarse pear used for baking,' Wright's Voc. i. 229, note 1, where we also find it spelt wardun, in a Nominale of the 15th century; it is spelt warden in Shak. Wint. Tale, iv. 3. 48.   It meant a keeping pear; Cotgrave has 'poire de garde, a warden, or winter pear, a pear which may be kept very long;' also the adj. gardien, 'keeping, warding, guarding,' answering to Low Lat. gardianus (for wardianus), used as an adjective. [†]

WARD,  a guard, a watch, means of guarding, one who is under a guardian, &c.  (E.)   1. M.E. ward, dat. warde, P. Plowman, B. xviii. 320; pl. wardes, guards, King Alisaunder, 1977.—A.S. weard, a guard, watchman, Grein, ii. 673.   This is a masc. sb. (gen. weardes); we also find A.S. weard, fem. (gen. wearde), a guarding, watching, protection; id.   Both senses are still retained.   Both sbs. are formed from the Teut. base WAR, to defend; see Wary.   Thus the orig. sense of the masc. sb. is 'a defender,' and of the fem. sb. is 'a defence.' + Icel. vörðr, gen. varðar, (1) a warder or watchman, (2) a watch. + G. wart, a warder. + Goth. wards, masc. sb., a keeper, only in the comp. daurawards, a door-keeper.   All these are extensions from the same root.   2. From this sb. was formed the verb to ward, A.S. weardian, to keep, to watch, Grein, ii. 674; cognate with which are Icel. varða, to warrant, and G. warten, M.H.G. warden, to watch, from the latter of which is derived (through the French) E. guard.   Der. ward-er, Spenser, F. Q. v. 2. 21; ward-room, ward-ship.   Also ward-en, q.v., ward-robe, q.v.   Also bear-ward, door-ward, hay-ward (= hedge-ward, from F. haie, a hedge); ste-ward, q.v.; wraith, q.v.   Doublet, guard, sb. and verb.


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