Definitions

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

  • v. First and third person singular past indicative of be. See Regional Note at you-uns.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. First-person singular simple past tense indicative of be.
  • v. Third-person singular simple past tense indicative of be.
  • v. Second-person singular simple past tense indicative of be.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • The first and third persons singular of the verb be, in the indicative mood, preterit (imperfect) tense.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • A verb-form used to supply the past tense of the verb be: as, I was, thou wast or wert, he was; we, you, or they were. In the subjunctive, I were, thou wert, he were; we, you, they were, etc.
  • The forms wast and wert in the second person singular of the indicative (cf. Icel. vert), and wert in the second person singular of the subjunctive, are modern, being conformed to the model of art. The older form of the second person singular in both moods is were. The ungrammatical combination you was became common in the eighteenth century, but is now condemned.

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English wæs; see wes-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English wæs, from Proto-Germanic *was, (identical to Low German was, cognate with German war), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂wes- (“to reside”). The paradigm of "to be" has been since the time of Proto-Germanic a synthesis of three originally distinct verb stems. The infinitive form be is from Proto-Indo-European *bʰew- (“to become”). The words is and are are both derived from Proto-Indo-European *h₁es- (“to be”). Lastly, the past forms starting with w- such as was and were are from Proto-Indo-European *h₂wes- (“to reside”). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • However, Razzaq swung hugely at Sidebottom and was caught at short third man, Gul pulled the next ball to deep square leg and Shoiab, having hit Bresnan for only the sixth four of the innings to go with the three sixes,  was comprehensively yorked to give the bowler his third wicket.

    Pitiful Pakistan hit rock bottom as England stroll to second win

  • It was, they might concede, yes,  for now, genuinely quite interesting; a bit of an anomaly, but we had all the time in the world and there was nothing particularly at stake - or if you like there was   something very particular at stake, the anomaly bit, but it would soon be an anomaly no more and no rush about it.

    Encasement

  • Sam Heldman: Maybe the brief was in opposition to a motion to dismiss, and maybe the brief in support of the motion to dismiss included a sentence saying that the case *was* an “insane lawsuit brought in ignorance” blah blah blah.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Never a Good Way to Start Your Argument

  • Maybe the brief was in opposition to a motion to dismiss, and maybe the brief in support of the motion to dismiss included a sentence saying that the case *was* an “insane lawsuit brought in ignorance” blah blah blah.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Never a Good Way to Start Your Argument

  • (I know, because that's how I felt fifty-odd years ago when I first saw the early science fiction magazines that Hugo Gernsback was publishing a few years before _I _was born.)

    New Race

  • I don't know for sure because she was already grown when I got her from the pound, just before Christmas,  years ago this was  — back when I had hair and hope.

    All Fur and Bones

  • Maybe that someone was Clinton (Bill * was* in Canada the week before the primaries) -- Maybe it was the Republicans (apparently lots of connection between them and Harper's govt, and this is worthy of Karl Rove).

    Report: NAFTA-Gate Leaker Said Hillary's People Were Reassuring Canada, Too

  • Aligning himself with a delusional President, in hopes of securing the red base, was a catastrophic mistake for a man who once _was_ independent.

    McCain's Michigan State Chair Quits

  • And I know it was hard for you, I know your sense that you'd failed withThe _____was enormous.

    The Ann chapter

  • I wasn't 100% sure what it was*--I just knew it was South Indian and that it involved a long list of ingredients--but it was a revelation.

    Archive 2009-05-01

Comments

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  • Was it a cat I saw?

    October 31, 2008

  • Saw in reverse.

    November 3, 2007