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Webster 1913 Edition


Why

Why

,
adv.
[OE.
whi
,
why
, AS.
hwī
,
hw[GREEK]
, instrumental case of
hwā
,
hwæt
; akin to Icel.
hvī
why, Dan. & Sw.
hvi
; cf. Goth.
hw[GREEK]
. [GREEK]. See
Who
.]
1.
For what cause, reason, or purpose; on what account; wherefore; – used interrogatively. See the Note under
What
, pron., 1.
Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for
why
will ye die, O house of Israel?
Ezek. xxxiii. 11.
2.
For which; on account of which; – used relatively.
No ground of enmity between us known
Why
he should mean me ill or seek to harm.
Milton.
Turn the discourse; I have a reason
why

I would not have you speak so tenderly.
Dryden.
3.
The reason or cause for which; that on account of which; on what account;
as, I know not
why
he left town so suddenly
; – used as a compound relative.
Why is sometimes used as an interjection or an expletive in expression of surprise or content at a turn of affairs; used also in calling. “Why, Jessica!”
Shak.

If her chill heart I can not move,
Why
, I’ll enjoy the very love.
Cowley.
Sometimes, also, it is used as a noun.
The how and the
why
and the where.
Goldsmith.
For why
,
because; why. See
Forwhy
.
[Obs. or Colloq.]

Why

,
Noun.
A young heifer.
[Prov. Eng.]
Grose.

Webster 1828 Edition


Why

WHY

,
adv.
[L., for what. The original phrase is for what, for why.]
1.
For what cause or reason, interrogatively.
Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die? Jeremiah 27.
2.
For which reason or cause, relatively.
No ground of enmity, why he should mean me ill.
3.
For what reason or cause; for which; relatively.
Turn the discourse; I have a reason why I would not have you speak so tenderly.
4.
It is used sometimes emphatically, or rather as a expletive.
If her chill heart I cannot move, why, Ill enjoy the very love.

Definition 2022


why

why

English

Pronunciation

Adverb

why (not comparable)

  1. For what cause, reason, or purpose.
    1. Introducing a complete question.
      Why is the sky blue?
      Why did you do that?
      I don’t know why he did that
      Tell me why the moon changes phase.
    2. Introducing a verb phrase (bare infinitive clause).
      Why spend money on something you already get for free?
      Why not tell him how you feel?
    3. Introducing a noun or other phrase.
      Why him? Why not someone taller?
    • 2013 July 20, Welcome to the plastisphere”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
      Plastics are energy-rich substances, which is why many of them burn so readily. Any organism that could unlock and use that energy would do well in the Anthropocene. Terrestrial bacteria and fungi which can manage this trick are already familiar to experts in the field.
Synonyms
Translations

Noun

why (plural whys)

  1. reason
    A good article will cover the who, the what, the when, the where, the why and the how.
Synonyms
Translations

Interjection

why

  1. An exclamation used to express indignation, mild surprise, or impatience. "Well, I'll tell you...".
    • Daniel Defoe
      Why, child, I tell thee if I was thy mother I would not disown thee; don't you see I am as kind to you as if I was your mother?”
Translations
Derived terms

Etymology 2

Noun

why (plural whies)

  1. (Britain, dialect) A young heifer.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Grose to this entry?)

Statistics

Most common English words before 1923: call · speak · land · #356: why · women · cried · general

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