WARD, that which guards or watches and that which is guarded or watched. The word is a doublet of " guard," which was adapted from the French comparatively late into English. Both are to be referred to the Teutonic root war-, to protect, defend, cf. " wary," " warn," " beware," O. Eng. weard, Ger. warten, etc., and the English " guardian," " garrison," etc. The principal applications of the term are, in architecture, to the inner courts of a fortified place; at Windsor Castle they are called the upper and lower wards (see BAILEY, CASTLE); to a ridge of metal inside a lock blocking the passage of any key which has not a corresponding slot into which the ridge fits, the slot in the key being also called " ward " (see LOCKS). Another branch of meaning is to be found in the use of the word for a division into which a borough is divided for the purpose of election of councillors, or a parish for election of guardians. It was also the term used as equivalent to " hundred " in Northumberland and Cumberland. To this branch belongs the use for the various large or small separate rooms in a hospital, asylum, etc., where patients are received and treated. The most general meaning of the word is for a minor or person who is under a guardianship (see INFANT, MARRIAGE and ROMAN LAW).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)