when

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English[edit]

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 when on Wikipedia

Alternative forms[edit]

  • wen (eye dialect)

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English when(ne), whanne, from Old English hwenne, hwænne, hwonne (when), from Proto-West Germanic *hwan, from Proto-Germanic *hwan (at what time, when), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷis (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 something / speak up when you want me to stop) as "say [the word] when".

Pronunciation[edit]

Adverb[edit]

when (not comparable)

  1. (interrogative) At what time? At which time? Upon which occasion or circumstance? Used to introduce direct or indirect questions about time.
    When will they arrive?
    Do you know when they arrived?
    I don't know when they arrived.
    When they arrived is unknown.
    • 1834, Samuel Kirkham, English Grammar in Familiar Lectures, page 117:
      What words are used as interrogative pronouns? — Give examples.
      When are the words, what, which, and that, called adj. pron.?
      When are they called interrogative pronominal adjectives?
  2. At an earlier time and under different, usually less favorable, circumstances.
    He's mister high and mighty now, but I remember him when.
  3. (relative) At which, on which, during which: often omitted or replaced with that.
    That was the day when the Twin Towers fell.

Translations[edit]

Conjunction[edit]

when

  1. At (or as soon as) that time that; at the (or any and every) time that; if.
    Pavlov's dogs salivate when [i.e. at any and every time that] they hear a bell.
    Put your pencil down when [i.e. as soon as, at the moment that] the timer goes off.
    A player wins when [as soon as, or at any time that, if] she has four cards of the same suit.
    A student is disqualified when [as soon as, if] they cheat.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, “Accessary After the Fact”, in Nobody, New York, N.Y.: George H[enry] Doran Company, published 1915, OCLC 40817384, page 48:
      Turning back, then, toward the basement staircase, she began to grope her way through blinding darkness, but had taken only a few uncertain steps when, of a sudden, she stopped short and for a little stood like a stricken thing, quite motionless save that she quaked to her very marrow in the grasp of a great and enervating fear.
    • 2013 July-August, Henry Petroski, “Geothermal Energy”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 4:
      Energy has seldom been found where we need it when we want it.
  2. During the time that; at the time of the action of the following clause or participle phrase.
    They dream when [i.e. during the time that] they sleep.
    I'm happiest when [during the time that, or at any time that] I’m working.
    It was raining when I came yesterday.
    The game is over when the referee says it is.
    Be careful when crossing the street.
    When (you are) angry, count to ten before speaking or acting.
    • 2012 April 22, Sam Sheringham, “Liverpool 0-1 West Brom”, in BBC Sport:
      The Baggies had offered little threat until the 28th minute, but when their first chance came it was a clear one.
  3. At what time; at which time.
    I am here till Friday, when [i.e. at which time] I leave for Senegal.
    I was just walking down the street, when [i.e. at which time] all of a sudden it started to rain.
    • 1839, John Donne, The Works of John Donne: Sermons, Letters, Poems, page 310:
      I am at London only to provide for Monday, when I shall use that favour which my Lady Bedford hath afforded me, of giving her name to my daughter; which I mention to you, []
    • 1929, Donald John Munro, The Roaring Forties and After (page 38)
      He sat at the door of his kitchen watching, and seeing there was nothing else for it we buckled to and soon had the job done; when we were admitted to the kitchen and given a really good meal.
  4. Since; given the fact that; considering that.
    I don't see the point of putting up Christmas decorations when I am the only person who is going to see them.
  5. Whereas; although; at the same time as; in spite of the fact that.
    You're picking at your scabs when you should be letting them heal.
    He keeps changing things when the existing system works perfectly well.

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Pronoun[edit]

when

  1. (interrogative) What time; which time.
    Since when do I need your permission?
    • 1610–1611, William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, scene i], page 18, column 2:
      [...] ſhortly [...] I'le reſolue you [...] / Theſe happend accidents: till when, be cheerefull [...]
    • 1831 (published), John Davies, Orchestra Or, a Poem of Dancing, in Robert Southey, Select Works of the British Poets: From Chaucer to Jonson, with Biographical Sketches, page 706:
      Homer, to whom the Muses did carouse
      A great deep cup with heav'nly nectar fill'd,
      The greatest, deepest cup in Jove's great house,
      (For Jove himself had so expressly will'd)
      He drank off all, nor let one drop be spill'd;
      Since when, his brain that had before been dry,
      Became the well-spring of all poetry.
    • 1833, William Potts Dewees, A Treatise on the Diseases of Females, page 495:
      [This] we imagined might have been owing to some accidental condition of the system, or perhaps idiosyncracy; this led us to a second trial, but we experienced the same inconveniences, since when, we have altogether abandoned their use.
    • 2012, Emile Letournel, Robert Judet, Fractures of the Acetabulum, Springer Science & Business Media (→ISBN), page 385:
      So we combined the Kocher-Langenbeck and iliofemoral approach until 1965, since when we have combined the ilioinguinal and Kocher-Langenbeck approaches.
  2. The time that.
    I recall when they were called the Greys.
    Next year is when we elect a new mayor.

Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

when (plural whens)

  1. The time at which something happens.
    A good article will cover the who, the what, the when, the where, the why and the how.
    • 2008, Paolo Aite, Lanscapes of the Psyche, Ipoc Press (→ISBN), page 151:
      For the moment, suffice it to say that the stories told through the whens and hows of building a scene differentiate individual desires and needs more clearly than shared speech was up to then able to communicate.

Translations[edit]

Interjection[edit]

when

  1. (often humorous) 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.
  2. (obsolete) Expressing impatience. (Compare what.)
    • c. 1590–1592, William Shakespeare, “The Taming of the Shrew”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene i], page 221, column 2:
      Why when I ſay? [] Off with my boots, you rogues: you villaines, when? [] Out you rogue []
    • c. 1600, Sir John Oldcastle, iv. 1:
      Set, parson, set; the dice die in my hand.
      When, parson, when! what, can you find no more?
    • c. 1615-1657, Thomas Middleton, More Dissemblers Besides Women, volume 1:
      Why, when? begin, sir: I must stay your leisure.

Translations[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • when at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • when in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.

Anagrams[edit]


Middle English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Adverb[edit]

when

  1. Alternative form of whenne

Conjunction[edit]

when

  1. Alternative form of whenne

Etymology 2[edit]

Verb[edit]

when

  1. Alternative form of winnen (to win)