from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To make aware in advance of actual or potential harm, danger, or evil.
  • transitive v. To admonish as to action or manners.
  • transitive v. To notify (a person) to go or stay away: warned them off the posted property.
  • transitive v. To notify or apprise in advance: They called and warned me that they might be delayed.
  • intransitive v. To give a warning.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To give warning.
  • v. To refuse, deny (someone something).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To refuse.
  • transitive v. To make ware or aware; to give previous information to; to give notice to; to notify; to admonish; hence, to notify or summon by authority
  • transitive v. To give notice to, of approaching or probable danger or evil; to caution against anything that may prove injurious.
  • transitive v. To ward off.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To put on guard by timely notice; wake, ware, or give notice to beforehand, as of approaching danger or of something to be avoided or guarded against; caution; admonish; tell or command admonishingly; advise.
  • To admonish, as to any duty; advise; ex postulate with.
  • To apprise; give notice to; make ware or aware; inform previously; notify; direct; bid; summon.
  • To deny; refuse; forbid.
  • To defend; keep or ward off.
  • n. A denial; refusal.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. admonish or counsel in terms of someone's behavior
  • v. notify, usually in advance
  • v. notify of danger, potential harm, or risk
  • v. ask to go away


Middle English warnen, from Old English warnian; see wer-4 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English warnian, from Proto-Germanic *warnōnan. Cognate with German warnen. (Wiktionary)
From a combination of Old English wiernan (from Proto-Germanic *warnijanan; compare Danish værne) and Old English wearnian (from Proto-Germanic *warnōnan; compare Swedish varna). (Wiktionary)



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  • In small-town New England, town meeting dates and ballot questions are "warned" in advance, and posters about such matters bear the headline "WARNING" which is quite disorienting for newcomers.

    November 20, 2008