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Webster 1913 Edition


Was

Was

(wŏz)
.
[AS.
wæs
, 2d pers.
wǣre
, 3d pers.
wæs
, pl.
wǣron
, with the inf.
wesan
to be; akin to D.
wezen
, imp.
was
, OHG.
wesan
, imp.
was
, G.
wesen
, n., a being, essence,
war
was, Icel.
vera
to be, imp.
var
, Goth.
wisan
to be, to dwell, to remain, imp.
was
, Skr.
vas
to remain, to dwell. √148. Cf.
Vernacular
,
Wassail
,
Were
,
Verb.
]
The first and third persons singular of the verb be, in the indicative mood, preterit (imperfect) tense;
as, I
was
; he
was
.

Webster 1828 Edition


Was

WAS

,
s.
as z.; the past tense of the substantive verb; L., to be, to exist, whence English is, in the present tense, and was in the past; as, I was; he was.

Definition 2022


was

was

See also: wäs, waš, wąs, and wäs-

English

Alternative forms

Verb

was

  1. first-person singular simple past indicative of be.
  2. third-person singular simple past indicative of be.
  3. (proscribed, dialect) Second-person singular simple past tense indicative of be.
    • 1913, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Poison Belt
      "Was you outside the Bank of England, sir?"
  4. (colloquial, nonstandard) first-person plural simple past indicative of be
    • 2001, Darrel Rachel, The Magnolias Still Bloom (page 104)
      “What happened here, Hadley?” the chief asked. “We was robbed, damn it, we was robbed.”

Derived terms

See also

Statistics

Most common English words before 1923: in · I · that · #8: was · he · his · with

Anagrams


Afrikaans

Noun

was (uncountable)

  1. wax

Verb

was

  1. past of wees

Verb

was (present was, present participle wassende, past participle gewas)

  1. to wash

Dutch

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /ʋɑs/
  • Rhymes: -ɑs

Etymology 1

Cognate with English wash.

Noun

was m (plural wassen, diminutive wasje n)

  1. laundry, clothes that need to be washed, or just have been washed.

Verb

was

  1. first-person singular present indicative of wassen
  2. imperative of wassen

Etymology 2

From Old Dutch *was, from Proto-Germanic *wahsą. Cognate with German Wachs, English wax, Danish voks, Swedish vax.

Noun

was m, n (plural wassen)

  1. wax
  2. growth

Verb

was

  1. first-person singular present indicative of wassen
  2. imperative of wassen
Derived terms

Etymology 3

Cognate with English was.

Verb

was

  1. singular past indicative of zijn
  2. singular past indicative of wezen

Anagrams


German

Alternative forms

  • wat (colloquial in western and parts of northern Germany)

Etymology

From Middle High German waz, from Old High German waz, hwaz, from Proto-Germanic *hwat, from Proto-Indo-European *kʷod. Cognate with Dutch wat, English what, Danish hvad. More at what.

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /vas/
  • Rhymes: -as

Pronoun

was

  1. (interrogative) what
    Was machst du heute?
    What are you doing today?
  2. (relative) which (referring to the entire preceding clause)
    Sie tanzte gut, was er bewunderte.
    She was a good dancer, which he admired.
  3. (relative) that, which (referring to das, alles, etwas, nichts, and neuter substantival adjectives)
    Das ist alles, was ich will.
    That's all that I want.
    Das ist das Beste, was mir passieren konnte.
    That's the best that could have happened to me.
  4. (relative, colloquial) that, which (referring to neuter singular nouns, instead of standard das)
    Siehst du das weiße Haus, was renoviert wird?
    Do you see that white house, which is being renovated?
  5. (indefinite, colloquial) something, anything (instead of standard etwas)
    Ich hab was gefunden.
    I've found something.

Usage notes

  • The genitive case, and the dative case if necessary for clearness, can be paraphrased by means of welcher Sache (what thing). Possessive genitives are more commonly paraphrased with wovon (of what).
  • The colloquial was meaning "something" can only be the first word in a sentence if followed by an adjective: Was Wichtiges fehlt noch. (Something important is missing.) Otherwise the full form etwas must be used: Etwas fehlt noch. (Something is missing.) The reason for this is that the latter sentence could be misinterpreted as a question if was were used.
  • Was is not commonly used with prepositions, but replaced with pronominal adverbs containing wo-. Hence: Womit hast du das gemacht? (With what did you do that?), instead of Mit was hast du das gemacht?.
  • Was was also used attributively, as in auf was Weise, zu was Ende, was Volck, was Volcks, was Raths, but Gottsched and Adelung criticised this usage. In the genitive and dative before feminine nouns there was also the form waser as in Aus waser Macht tust du das?.
    • 1718, Johann Caspar Schwartz, Johann Caspar Schwartzens Fünfftes Dutzend Wund-artzneyischer Anmerckungen von vielerley Arten der Geschwülste und Geschwüre, Hamburg, page 97:
      [...] denen Thieren und Gewächsen aber, von was Arten und Geschlechten selbige auch nur immer seyn mögen, [...]
    • 1742, Johann Christoph Gottsched, Versuch einer Critischen Dichtkunst, Leipzig, page 442:
      Held August, du kühner Krieger! / Du bist der beglückte Sieger, / Vor, und in, und nach dem Fall. / Auf was Arten, auf was Weisen, / Soll man deine Thaten preisen / Hier und da, und überall?
    • 1786, Johann Michael Schosulan, Gründlicher Unterricht für das Landvolk: Wie und auf was Weise jedermann seinen etrunkenen, erhängten, erstickten, erfrornen, von Hitze verschmachteten und von Blitz berührten unglücklichen Nebenmenschen Hülfe leisten, der Retter aber für sein eigenes Leben sich selbst sicher stellen solle., Wien, title:
      Wie und auf was Weise jedermann seinen [...] Nebenmenschen Hülfe leisten [...] solle.

Derived terms

Adverb

was

  1. (colloquial) a little, somewhat
    Ich komm' was später.
    I'll arrive a little later.

Gothic

Romanization

was

  1. Romanization of 𐍅𐌰𐍃

Gros Ventre

Noun

was

  1. bear

Low German

Verb

was

  1. first-person singular simple past indicative of węsen
  2. third-person singular simple past indicative of węsen
  3. apocopated form of wasse (wash), second-person singular imperative of wassen (mainly used in the Netherlands, equivalent to other dialects' wasche/waske)
  4. apocopated form of wasse (wax), second-person singular imperative of wassen
  5. apocopated form of wasse (grow), second-person singular imperative of wassen

Usage notes

Notes on the verb węsen (to be): In recent times (~1800) the old subjunctive wer is used in place of was by many speakers. This might be the old subjunctive which is now used as a preterite or a reduction of weren, which is the preterite plural indicative of the verb. It might also be an imitation of the High German cognate war. Many smaller dialectal clusters do this, but no dialect does it. That means: even though there are many regions within e.g. Lower Saxony that use wer for was, maybe even the majority, there is no straight connection between them, i.e. which form is used can depend on preference, speaker and specific region. Due to this "one town this way, one town that way"-nature of the situation no form can be named "standard" for a greater dialect, such as Low Saxon.


Lower Sorbian

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): [was]

Pronoun

was

  1. genitive of wy
  2. accusative of wy
  3. locative of wy

Mayangna

Noun

was

  1. water
  2. stream, river

References

  • Smith, Ethnogeography of the Mayangna of Nicaragua, in Ethno- and historical geographic studies in Latin America: essays honoring William V. Davidson (2008), page 88: The location of 46 settlements from this list containing the term ”was" —meaning "water" or "stream" — were obtained[.]

Polish

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): [vas̪]

Pronoun

was

  1. genitive of wy
  2. accusative of wy
  3. locative of wy

Scots

Noun

was

  1. plural of wa

Somali

Verb

was

  1. ****

Tok Pisin

Etymology

From English watch.

Verb

was

  1. angel; any supernatural creature in heaven according to Christian theology
    • 1989, Buk Baibel long Tok Pisin, Bible Society of Papua New Guinea, Genesis 3:24 (translation here):
      God i rausim pinis man na meri, na em i makim ol strongpela ensel bilong sanap na was i stap long hap sankamap bilong gaden Iden. Na tu em i putim wanpela bainat i gat paia i lait long en na i save tanim tanim long olgeta hap. Oltaim ol dispela ensel wantaim dispela bainat i save was i stap, nogut wanpela man i go klostu long dispela diwai bilong givim laip.
This entry has fewer than three known examples of actual usage, the minimum considered necessary for clear attestation, and may not be reliable. Tok Pisin is subject to a special exemption for languages with limited documentation. If you speak it, please consider editing this entry or adding citations. See also Help and the Community Portal.

Welsh

Noun

was

  1. Soft mutation of gwas.