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

  • adverb For what purpose, reason, or cause; with what intention, justification, or motive.
  • conjunction The reason, cause, or purpose for which.
  • conjunction Usage Problem On account of which; for which.
  • noun The cause or intention underlying a given action or situation.
  • noun A difficult problem or question.
  • interjection Used to express mild surprise, indignation, or impatience.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun A dialectal form of quey.

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

  • noun Prov. Eng. A young heifer.
  • adverb For what cause, reason, or purpose; on what account; wherefore; -- used interrogatively. See the Note under What, pron., 1.
  • adverb For which; on account of which; -- used relatively.
  • adverb The reason or cause for which; that on account of which; on what account; ; -- used as a compound relative.
  • adverb [Obs. or Colloq.] because; why. See Forwhy.

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

  • noun UK, dialect A young heifer.
  • adverb For what cause, reason, or purpose.
  • conjunction The reason that.
  • noun The reason.
  • interjection Exclamation of mild surprise.

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'


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

[Middle English, from Old English hwȳ; see kwo- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.


The word why has been adopted by Darrell Estabrook.

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  • 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 2010

  • 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 2009

  • 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 2008

  • 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… 2007

  • 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 daveberta 2006

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

    American Tabloid Ellroy, James, 1948- 1995

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

    The Bacillus of Beauty A Romance of To-day Harriet Stark

  • 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." Jenny Wren

  • 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 James Morier

  • 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 John Hill Burton


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  • Why not?

    December 7, 2007