whys and wherefores

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English[edit]

Noun[edit]

whys and wherefores (plural only)

  1. (idiomatic) The reasons or motivations for a fact, action, or decision, especially the complete set of such reasons or motivations.
    • 1887, George Bernard Shaw, An Unsocial Socialist, ch. 5:
      I can no more tell you the whys and wherefores of myself than I can lift myself up by the waistband and carry myself into the next county.
    • 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, ch. 1:
      [I]f she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof.
    • 2004 Sept 5, Albert M. Forget, "Question integrity of vets attacking Kerry," Seattle Post-Intelligencer (retrieved 13 May 2011):
      Of the hundreds of thousands who served in Vietnam, most still do not understand the whys and wherefores of our involvement.

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