Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adverb For what purpose or reason; why.
  • adverb Therefore.
  • noun A purpose or cause.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The reason or cause.
  • For what reason, thing, or purpose? what for? why?
  • For which cause or reason; in consequence of which; consequently.
  • Synonyms Therefore, Wherefore, Accordingly, etc. See therefore.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun colloq. the reason why.
  • adverb For which reason; so; -- used relatively.
  • adverb For what reason; why; -- used interrogatively.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adverb conjunctive, archaic Why, for what reason, because of what.
  • adverb conjunctive Therefore.
  • conjunction archaic Because of which.
  • noun An intent or purpose; a why.

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

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

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English wherfor, wherfore, hwarfore, equivalent to where (“=what”) +‎ for. Compare Dutch waarvoor ("what for, wherefore"), German wofür ("for what, what for, why"), Danish and Norwegian hvorfor ("wherefore, why"), Swedish varför ("wherefore, why"). More at where, for.

Examples

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