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Etymology 1[edit]



  1. (archaic) Contraction of if and when.

Etymology 2[edit]

Of uncertain origin.[1] The spelling ef'n is attested since at least 1909.[2] Perhaps a compound of if and an (if) (a variant, attested since Middle English, of and (if); compare an if and gin (if));[1][2] if an is attested since at least the 1700s.[2] Alternatively, perhaps a compound of if and -in', generalized from conjunctional uses of considering, excepting, and so on,[1] or of if and -en as in offen (off),[3] outen (out)[3] (which goes back to Old English ūtan), etc. Compare less'n.



  1. (chiefly Southern US, Midland US, and some dialects in Britain) If.
Alternative forms[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 iffen” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Grammarphobia: iffen, which also says the Dictionary of American Regional English speculates that if and is the origin
  3. 3.0 3.1 Paul Dickerson Brandes, Jeutonne Brewer, Dialect clash in America: issues and answers (1977), page 296: The en suffix also appears in words other than verbs, e.g., outen in "Git outen thishere house"[,] offen in "I done bought it offen him fer tin cints"; and iffen in "Iffen you'uz to tell me he'uz daid, I wou'nt believe ye."