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From Middle English whennes, from Old English hwanon (with adverbial genitive -s), related to hwonne (whence when). Analyzable as when +‎ -s.



whence (not comparable)

  1. (archaic, formal or literary) From where; from which place or source.
    Antonym: whither
    Whence came I?
    "Pork" comes from French, whence we get most of our modern cooking terms.

Usage notes[edit]

  • This word is uncommon in contemporary usage; from where is now usually substituted (as in the example sentence: Where did I come from? or From where did I come?). Whence is now mainly encountered in older works and in poetic or literary writing. As a result of the obsolescence of the older directional verb system, words like whence and its antonym whither are sometimes used interchangeably as hypercorrect synonyms of where.
  • From whence has a strong literary precedent, appearing in Wyclif's Bible translation, Shakespeare and the King James Bible, as well as in the writings of numerous Victorian-era writers. In recent times, however, it has been criticized as redundant by some usage commentators.

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  1. (literary, poetic) Used for introducing the result of a fact that has just been stated; thence
    The work is slow and dangerous, whence the high costs.
    I scored more than you in the exam, whence we can conclude that I am better at the subject than you are.


Related terms[edit]


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