Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adv. For what purpose, reason, or cause; with what intention, justification, or motive: Why is the door shut? Why do birds sing?
  • conj. The reason, cause, or purpose for which: I know why you left.
  • conj. Usage Problem On account of which; for which: "The reason why [regular verbs] are called regular is that we can predict what all the other three forms are” ( Randolph Quirk).
  • n. The cause or intention underlying a given action or situation: studying the whys of antisocial behavior.
  • n. A difficult problem or question.
  • interj. Used to express mild surprise, indignation, or impatience.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. For what cause, reason, or purpose.
  • conj. The reason that.
  • n. The reason.
  • interj. Exclamation of mild surprise.
  • n. A young heifer.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. For what cause, reason, or purpose; on what account; wherefore; -- used interrogatively. See the Note under What, pron., 1.
  • adv. For which; on account of which; -- used relatively.
  • adv. The reason or cause for which; that on account of which; on what account; ; -- used as a compound relative.
  • n. A young heifer.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • For what cause, reason, or purpose? wherefore?
  • For which reason or cause; on account of which; for what or which; also, as compound relative, the thing or reason for or on account of which.
  • An emphatic or often expletive use of the adverb.
  • Used as a call or an exclamation.
  • n. A dialectal form of quey.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the cause or intention underlying an action or situation, especially in the phrase `the whys and wherefores'

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English hwȳ.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Yeah, the pillow is spelled wrong, but why are pillows the enemy and for goodness sakes *why* do we need enough self discipline to stay away from them?

    Regretsy – Derp, Derp, Derp

  • True true true…and why is it that ‘network news’ seem so upset in a concern-troll like way about Arm-a-dipshitwad stealing an election when they had no concern at all about Bush/Chaney stealing elections here at home..why?

    And If He Doesn’t Confess To Being A CIA Agent, Waterboard The Shit Out Of Him | ATTACKERMAN

  • I cant understand why they even wanna pump the money back into the companies that are part just one part of course of the cause for all this mess..why dont they put the money in the hands of the American people and let us decide our fate..instead of our crooked greedy politicians.

    Evening Buzz: Bailout Rejected

  • And hence, why those bingo points were expanded from a black humour joke into an explanation for each point that explains *why* they are ineffective arguments, complete with further reading.

    Point/Counterpoint in the Blogosphere…

  • I cant do that anymore, and profits I make during the year either go to an accountant or the Canadian Government...why not let me dontate..why not let me decide...there are 1000's like me who just move or go underground.

    vincent von google

  • I _know_ why you were at Perry's Little Log Cabin, and _why_ you frequent Hernando's Hideaway.

    American Tabloid

  • The collector knows what he wants, and why he wants it, and that _why_ does not entirely depend on exteriors, though he may have his whim as to that also.

    The Book-Hunter A New Edition, with a Memoir of the Author

  • "But why -- _why_ --" Mrs. Whitney squeaked and panted, and her breath failed.

    The Bacillus of Beauty A Romance of To-day

  • After spending weeks in teaching them, and fortunes on pieces of sugar, why, before an audience, will they insist on ringing the bell when they are told to shut the door? and when you ask them to sit up and beg, _why_ do they die for the Queen?

    Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Girl Sister of that "Idle Fellow."

  • But why, ’ said I, ‘does this khanum’ -- (pointing to the unveiled one) -- ‘why does she hold me so long in suspense?

    The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan

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Comments

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  • Why not?

    December 7, 2007