when

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English when(ne), whan(ne), from Old English hwenne, hwænne, hwonne (when), from Proto-Germanic *hwannē (at what time, when), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷo-, *kʷi- (interrogative base). Cognate with Dutch wanneer (when) and wen (when, if), Low German wannehr (when), wann (when) and wenn (if, when), German wann (when) and wenn (when, if), Gothic 𐍈𐌰𐌽 (ƕan, when, how), Latin quandō (when). More at who.

Interjection sense: a playful misunderstanding of "say when" (i.e. say when you want me to stop) as "say [the word] when".

Pronunciation[edit]

Adverb[edit]

when (not comparable)

  1. (interrogative) Used to introduce questions about time.
    When will they arrive?
  2. Used to introduce indirect questions about time.
    Do you know when they arrived?
    Do you know when they will arrive?
    Do you know when they arrive?
  3. At an earlier and less prosperous time.
    He's mister high and mighty now, but I remember him when.

Translations[edit]

Conjunction[edit]

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when

  1. At what time.
    They were told when to sleep.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, The Celebrity:
      The Celebrity, by arts unknown, induced Mrs. Judge Short and two other ladies to call at Mohair on an afternoon when Mr. Cooke was trying a trotter on the track. [] Their example was followed by others at a time when the master of Mohair was superintending in person the docking of some two-year-olds, and equally invisible.
  2. At such time as.
    I’m happiest when I’m working.
    • 2013 July-August, Henry Petroski, “Geothermal Energy”, American Scientist, volume 101, number 4: 
      Energy has seldom been found where we need it when we want it. Ancient nomads, wishing to ward off the evening chill and enjoy a meal around a campfire, had to collect wood and then spend time and effort coaxing the heat of friction out from between sticks to kindle a flame. With more settled people, animals were harnessed to capstans or caged in treadmills to turn grist into meal.
  3. As soon as.
    I’ll do it when I get the time.
  4. At a time in the past,
    It was raining when I came yesterday.
    • 2012 April 22, Sam Sheringham, “Liverpool 0-1 West Brom”, BBC Sport:
      The Baggies had offered little threat until the 28th minute, but when their first chance came it was a clear one.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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Pronoun[edit]

when

  1. (interrogative) What time; which time
    Since when do I need your permission?

Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

when (plural whens)

  1. The time.
    A good article will cover the who, the what, the when, the where, the why and the how.

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

Interjection[edit]

when

  1. That's enough, a command to stop adding something, especially an ingredient of food or drink.
    • 2004, Andy Husbands and Joe Yonan, The Fearless Chef: Innovative Recipes from the Edge of American Cuisine, page 83:
      When we go out to a restuarant, we're the guys who never say "when" when the waiter is grinding fresh pepper on our salads.
    • 2009, Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin, page 111:
      He keeps the bottle in the top bureau drawer; he takes it out, and two glasses, and pours. Say when.
      When, please.
    • 2011, Fritz Allhoff and Dave Monroe, Porn - Philosophy for Everyone: How to Think With Kink:
      Producers have the power to say "when" when the actress involved is too stressed to continue. That's responsible filmmaking.

Translations[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Statistics[edit]

Anagrams[edit]