Definitions

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

  • pro. Used by the speaker or writer to indicate the speaker or writer along with another or others as the subject: We made it to the lecture hall on time. We are planning a trip to Arizona this winter.
  • pro. Used to refer to people in general, including the speaker or writer: "How can we enter the professions and yet remain civilized human beings?” ( Virginia Woolf).
  • pro. Used instead of I, especially by a writer wishing to reduce or avoid a subjective tone.
  • pro. Used instead of I, especially by an editorialist, in expressing the opinion or point of view of a publication's management.
  • pro. Used instead of I by a sovereign in formal address to refer to himself or herself.
  • pro. Used instead of you in direct address, especially to imply a patronizing camaraderie with the addressee: How are we feeling today?

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • pro. The speakers/writers, or the speaker/writer and at least one other person.
  • pro. The speaker/writer alone. (The use of we in the singular is the editorial we, used by writers and others, including royalty—the royal we—as a less personal substitute for I. The reflexive case of this sense of we is ourself.)
  • pro. Plural form of you, including everyone being addressed.
  • The speakers/writers, or the speaker/writer and at least one other person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pro. The plural nominative case of the pronoun of the first person; the word with which a person in speaking or writing denotes a number or company of which he is one, as the subject of an action expressed by a verb.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An abbreviation of Wednesday.
  • I and another or others; I and he or she, or I and they: a personal pronoun, taking the possessive our or ours (see our) and the objective (dative or accusative) us.
  • We is sometimes, like they, vaguely used for society, people in general, the world, etc.; but when the speaker or writer uses we he identifies himself more or less directly with the statement; when he uses they he implies no such identification. Both pronouns thus used may be translated by the French on and the German man. as, we (or they) say, French on dit, German man sagt.
  • We is frequently used by individuals, as editors and authors, when alluding to themselves, in order to avoid the appearance of egotism which it is assumed would result from the frequent use of the pronoun I. The plural style is used also by kings and other potentates, and is said to have been first used in his edicts by King John of England; according to others, by Richard I. The French and German sovereigns followed the example about the beginning of the thirteenth century.
  • We and us are sometimes misused for each other.

Etymologies

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

Examples

Comments

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  • Thy throuble praise is very livable, ye cannie nob.

    February 18, 2013

  • From the Same Context heading: any ill-satisfied plaguey uppish tea-drinker, and, praise those thermopower weapons.

    February 17, 2013

  • That's interesting. Thanks, qroqqa.

    February 17, 2013

  • Come, faith, madam, let us e'en pardon one another; for all the difference I find betwixt we men and you women, we forswear ourselves at the beginning of an amour, you as long as it lasts.
    —Wycherley, The Country Wife, 1675

    A nice example showing how old the construction is with case variation in what the CGEL calls 'determinative we' (where the NP 'we men' is headed by the noun 'men', and 'we' is a determinative, not a pronoun). That is, I presume Wycherley would have said *'betwixt us and you', not **'betwixt we and you'; but 'we men' is more of a fixed structure. In Present-day English this is often presumed to be a hypercorrection, but the OED has examples of it from well before Wycherley and prescriptive teaching.

    April 5, 2009

  • Rich kids now spell this word as wii. Drives me insane.

    February 6, 2009