adverb \ˈhwī, ˈwī\

: for what reason or purpose

—used to offer a suggestion or to say that a course of action is not necessary

—used to express irritation or annoyance

Full Definition of WHY

:  for what cause, reason, or purpose <why did you do it?>

Examples of WHY

  1. Why did you quit your job?
  2. Why is the sky blue?
  3. Why didn't you call me?
  4. Why didn't I think of that?
  5. I can't go out tonight. Why not?

Origin of WHY

Middle English, from Old English hwȳ, instr. case of hwæt what — more at what
First Known Use: before 12th century

Rhymes with WHY



: the cause, reason, or purpose for which

: for which

Full Definition of WHY

:  the cause, reason, or purpose for which <know why you did it> <that is why you did it>
:  for which :  on account of which <know the reason why you did it>

Examples of WHY

  1. I know why he did it.
  2. It's easy to see why she fell in love with him.
  3. He's a very good player. That's why he made the team.
  4. The reason why they succeeded is obvious. They worked really hard.
  5. Give me one good reason why I should stay.

First Known Use of WHY

before 12th century


plural whys

Definition of WHY

:  reason, cause <wants to know the whys and wherefores>
:  a baffling problem :  enigma

Examples of WHY

  1. <asked the whys behind the surprising decision>
  2. <how one decides that a certain he or she is the one is one of the great whys of life>

First Known Use of WHY

13th century



—used at the beginning of a statement especially to express surprise

Full Definition of WHY

—used to express mild surprise, hesitation, approval, disapproval, or impatience <why, here's what I was looking for>

Examples of WHY

  1. <why, what a strange thing to say!>

First Known Use of WHY


Related to WHY


Next Word in the Dictionary: whydah
Previous Word in the Dictionary: whvs
All Words Near: why

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