why

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English[edit]

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Wikipedia

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English, from Old English hwȳ, hwī (why, instrumental case of hwæt (what), literally by what, for what), from Proto-Germanic *hwī (by what, how), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷey, locative of *kʷís (who). Cognate with Middle High German wiu (how, why), Danish and Swedish hvi (why), Faroese and Icelandic hví (why), Latin cui (to whom, dative case of quī (who, how, why)), Ancient Greek πει (pei, where). Compare Old English þȳ (because, since, on that account, therefore, then, literally by that, for that). See thy.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • enPR: hwī, , IPA(key): /ʍaɪ/, /waɪ/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪ
  • Homophones: wye, Y, y (all only in accents with the wine-whine merger)

Adverb[edit]

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”, 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.
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Noun[edit]

why (plural whys)

  1. The reason.
    A good article will cover the who, the what, the when, the where, the why and the how.
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Interjection[edit]

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?”
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Etymology 2[edit]

Noun[edit]

why (plural whies)

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

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