What is a word for something that is protected or guarded? The thing that is being protected doesn't have to necessarily be valuable, secret, or even hidden from view. It just has to be something that is guarded, and difficult to access. The word must be a noun.

For example,

The King's horse was a _____. He allowed no one but himself to ride it.

I would offer what I have thought of so far but I can't even think of a word close to it...

  • 1
    A good next step would be to try an online thesaurus. Good starting words might be "treasure", "property", and "prerogative". Not that I'm suggesting those specific words as answers but that they might have some useful synonyms. If you do consult a thesaurus please edit your post and add your results.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 19:44
  • 1
    I'd use '... [the] apple of his eye' here: precious, treasured, guarded. But it's a noun phrase rather than a noun. Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 20:06
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    Why are you restricted to a noun? There are many ways of saying this, but virtually all of them rely on an adjective or verb rather than noun.
    – 1006a
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 20:07
  • @1006a I'm working on a concept in programming, and need to give the concept a descriptive but deliciously terse name. I'm trying to be consistent with all the other one-word concept names I've used. Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 20:37
  • Why am I tempted to say protégé? ;-)
    – Drew
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 21:55

6 Answers 6


A ward is the responsibility of a guardian.

A charge has a more general connotation of a responsibility laid on a responsible person; what is laid in a charge could be a person or a mission.

A waif is a helpless child without home or friends.

You could also consider nouning an adjective like vulnerable.

In terms of things that are wrapped in a protective coating or envelope, you might think about payload or contents.


I would use prize. I know that you have not specified a contest, but prize captures both (a) a thing of value and (b) a thing worth striving for (and by extension, worth guarding until it is "won")

While prize is a noun, it may also be used as a verb, as in regard highly; think much of ("We prize his vast knowledge of words")


  • 1
    And something that you take or hold, as in the French verb prendre.
    – user205876
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 21:18

Chattel might fit the bill.

  • (in general use) a personal possession.
  • LAW an item of property other than real estate.


. . . that is, if you don't mind one of the alternate usages:

  • slave


Even then, though, as 1006a commented, it's hard to nail down the "protected" part with using an adjective. Like . . . well, "protected".


It's not typically used as a noun, but "coveted" is technically usable as a noun.


This sounds a lot like one of the anthropological meanings of taboo. It's not a very well-known usage, but it might suit your purposes. From the American Heritage Dictionary, via thefreedictionary.com (bolding added):

n. 2.
a. A prohibition, especially in Polynesia and other South Pacific islands, excluding something from use, approach, or mention because of its sacred and inviolable nature.
b. An object, word, or act protected by such a prohibition.

I think the connotations work especially well with your example—the horse is reserved for the use of the king, simultaneously exalted and forbidden, and presumably protected by means of custom and fear of reprisal rather than through more physical means (the horse isn't kept in a safe).


The U.S. Secret Service calls a person it protects a protectee. You could use "protected" as a noun.

However, these people, animals, or objects that need protection are "targets" of others, presumably. That's another possibility.

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