Give One's Word: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
June 13, 2023

The idiom "give one's word" usually refers to making a promise or assurance, affirming one's commitment to do something, or standing by a statement or agreement. It's a verbal commitment based on trust and honor.

In short:

"Give one's word" typically represents a verbal promise or commitment to fulfill a specific action or uphold an agreement.

What Does "Give One's Word" Mean?

The phrase embodies the act of promising or committing to something with a sense of personal honor and integrity. For example, you might give your word to complete a project, keep a secret, fulfill a responsibility, or abide by a deal.

Let's explore its core meanings:

  • It usually refers to a promise or commitment made verbally.
  • It signifies trust and honor, as one's word is expected to be reliable and trustworthy.
  • The idiom can be used in various contexts, both formal and informal.

Where Does "Give One's Word" Come From?

The phrase "give one's word" comes from the Old English word "word," which meant "promise." The phrase first appeared in the early 13th century, and it has been used to mean "promise" or "guarantee" ever since.

In the past, people's word was considered to be their bond. If someone gave their word, it was expected that they would keep it, no matter what. This was because people's reputations were important, and they didn't want to be seen as untrustworthy.

Historical Example

I dare give my word for them, they will never doe it; no, not although it were injoynd to them in ftead of their neckverfe, their whole ftock of wit, when it was at the beft, beeing but ten Englith hexameters and a Lenvoy.

- Have With You to Saffron Walden, Thomas Nash, 1596

10 Examples of "Give One's Word" in Sentences

Here are some examples of using the idiom in sentences:

  • John gave his word to complete the project by next week.
  • Even though he had to lie low for a while, Shane gave his word to return and resume his duties.
  • Effective immediately, he gave his word to implement the necessary changes.
  • She gave her word to her parents that she would return home before sunset.
  • We gave our word to each other to remain best friends forever.
  • The children gave their word not to fight again.
  • That being said, I give you my word that we will make this right.
  • With deepest sympathy for your loss, I give you my word that we will support you in this difficult time.
  • As a businessman, he gave his word to provide quality products to his customers.
  • As we move forward, I give my word to uphold the values and goals of our organization.

Examples of "Give One's Word" in Pop Culture

The phrase "give one's word" occasionally appears in literature, movies, and television series, reflecting the concept of commitment, trust, and honor.

Let's examine some examples:

  • "'I give my word. Doc?' 'I give my word. Sadowski?' 'I give my word. DeTonq?' 'I give my word. Beltran?' Hernando Beltran said, 'Any one of us could have gone running to the colonel and told on the others. But we gave our word that night...'" is an excerpt from the 2001 book Word of Honor by Nelson DeMille.
  • In the animated movie Peter Pan (1953), Captain Hook tells Tinker Bell, "I mustn't harm Peter? Madam, Captain Hook gives his word not to lay a finger..."
  • "I Give You My Word" (Original title: Chastnoe Pionerskoe) is a family comedy film that takes place in 1977 in the industrial city of Dzerzhinsk.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Give One's Word"

There are numerous alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "give one's word."

Here are some of them:

  • Pledge one's honor
  • Vow
  • Swear
  • Assure
  • Promise
  • Commit
  • Oath
  • Bond
  • Warrant
  • Guarantee

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Give One's Word":

  • What does "give one's word" mean?

"Give one's word" generally means making a promise or commitment, upholding it with personal honor and integrity.

  • How can I use "give one's word" in a sentence?

You can use "give one's word" when referring to a commitment or promise. For example, "She gave her word to complete the assignment on time."

  • Where does the idiom "give one's word" come from?

The term originated in old English culture, reflecting the importance of a person's word as a binding promise in a time before written contracts.

  • Is "give one's word" a formal term?

"Give one's word" can be used in both formal and informal contexts, as it refers to a commitment or promise that is serious in nature.

  • Does "give one's word" only refer to verbal commitments?

Primarily, yes. The idiom signifies a verbal promise or commitment. However, it implies a level of honor and trust that extends beyond words.

  • Is "give one's word" a legally binding statement?

While the phrase suggests a serious commitment, it is not legally binding in itself unless it's part of a formal contract or agreement.

  • Can you use the phrase in a professional context?

Yes, "give one's word" can be used in professional situations when one commits to a task, a deadline, or an agreement.

  • What does it mean when someone doesn't "keep their word"?

If someone doesn't "keep their word," it means they did not fulfill the promise or commitment they had made.

  • Can you use it to make a personal promise?

Yes, "give one's word" can be used in personal settings to make promises to friends, family, or oneself.

  • What are synonyms for "give one's word"?

Words like pledge, promise, swear, vow, and guarantee can serve as synonyms for "give one's word."

Final Thoughts About "Give One's Word"

The idiom "give one's word" is a commitment or promise and implies a level of personal honor and integrity in fulfilling that promise. It is an expression applicable in both formal and informal contexts.

Here's a quick recap:

  • The term denotes making a promise or commitment and upholding it.
  • The phrase originates from old English culture, emphasizing the value of a person's word as a binding commitment.
  • You can use it in a variety of settings, from personal to professional.

The idiom illustrates trust, commitment, and personal honor's profound role in our social interactions. Let's remember the responsibility of giving our word and strive to honor our commitments.

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