\ ˈ(h)wen How to pronounce when (audio) , (h)wən \

Definition of when

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : at what time when will you return
2a : at or during which time
b : and then
3 : at a former and usually less prosperous time brag fondly of having known him when— Vance Packard
\ ˈ(h)wen How to pronounce when (audio) , (h)wən \

Definition of when (Entry 2 of 4)

1a : at or during the time that : while went fishing when he was a boy
b : just at the moment that stop writing when the bell rings
c : at any or every time that when he listens to music, he falls asleep
2 : in the event that : if a contestant is disqualified when he disobeys the rules
3a : considering that why use water at all when you can drown in it— Stuart Chase
b : in spite of the fact that : although quit politics when I might have had a great career in it
4 : the time or occasion at or in which tomorrow is when we must decide humor is when you laugh— Earl Rovit


\ ˈ(h)wen How to pronounce when (audio) \

Definition of when (Entry 3 of 4)

: what or which time life-long homes for those … who have lived here since when— Kim Waller


\ ˈ(h)wen How to pronounce when (audio) \

Definition of when (Entry 4 of 4)

: the time in which something is done or comes about troubled his head very little about the hows and whens of life— Laurence Sterne

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Synonyms for when

Synonyms: Conjunction

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Examples of when in a Sentence

Adverb When did the American Civil War begin? The detective asked me when I last saw her. When is the next performance? It was a time when people didn't have to lock their doors. the happy days when we were together We're still waiting for the test results, when we'll decide our next move. Conjunction When he finally showed up, he was drunk. When I was in school, we didn't have computers. You can go when the bell rings. Call me when you get home. Things were better when he got a job. When he watches television, he falls asleep. She quit politics when she might have had a great career in it. Pronoun He retired in 1998, since when he has been devoting his time to gardening. You need the report by when?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb In a year when sneaker maximalism is seemingly inescapable, the Killshot is a refreshing breath of simplicity. Tyler Watamanuk, GQ, "The Nike Killshot 2 Is Back at J.Crew," 7 May 2018 Trump has inspired countless novice candidates across the country, who see no limit to their ability to win public office at a time when Americans are tired of politics as usual and have lost faith in government and other institutions. Christa Case Bryant, The Christian Science Monitor, "In West Virginia, GOP tries to tame forces of 'Trumpism'," 7 May 2018 One happened to be in Parkland, when Gonzalez was in first grade. Danielle Paquette, courant.com, "People think she's a Parkland "crisis actor." It's terrifying.," 7 May 2018 Earlier this season, the Enquirer wrote a story showing that Cincinnati's winning percentage increases when Walker is in the starting lineup. Charlie Hatch, Cincinnati.com, "Kenney Walker's 50-yard strike for FC Cincinnati named USL's April Goal of the Month," 7 May 2018 The behavior only changed when the award was within grasp. Neil Senturia, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Do employee incentives and bonuses work?," 7 May 2018 Ken thinks its heckling, when people are asking for his help. EW.com, "Ken Jeong jumps off stage mid-show to help audience member having seizure," 7 May 2018 Orlando City’s depth is real … but there’s catch Anyone else know when was the last time Chris Schuler played a full 90 minutes? Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City enjoys record win streak, but tough tests loom," 7 May 2018 One sign that things were amiss came Friday morning, when Haspel was due to have conducted a walk-through at the hearing room in the Hart Senate Office Building. NBC News, "Gina Haspel considered withdrawing as CIA nominee, sources say," 6 May 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun These squishable-when-they're-not-spitting camelids hold antibodies that could hold the key to treating COVID-19, scientists suggested in a study published Tuesday in the journal Cell. TheWeek, "Llamas may hold the key to an effective coronavirus treatment," 6 May 2020 Saturday’s 38-31 win at Nebraska put to bed a lot of since-whens and last-times in Bloomington. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "Now that IU football is bowl eligible, where will the Hoosiers land?," 28 Oct. 2019 When Calvo relinquished the captain’s armband, Alonso put it on and has been credited with a lead-by-example, speak-when-necessary leadership style that garners attention and respect. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "Loons added many new players, but Francisco Calvo’s departure was X factor," 17 Oct. 2019 The springy, lightweight nylon frames comfortably grip the head with sticky-when-wet pads at the nose and earpieces. Outside Online, "The Best Sunglasses of 2018," 15 May 2018 Will's penned destruction of Trump -- as only the always-use-the-$1,000-word-when-the-$1-word-would-do wordsmith can -- will draw most of the attention. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "George Will just exposed Mike Pence's Faustian bargain," 10 May 2018 Daniel could have said no when his flinty-when-not-curmudgeonly father, Jay, asked to audit the classics class Daniel was teaching at Bard College. Peter Lewis, The Christian Science Monitor, "'An Odyssey' is a father-son journey with Homer as guide," 20 Sep. 2017 What the possibilities of technology offer — beyond the gig-when-you-need-it networks — are a chance to collectively rethink generations of regulations. Scott Canon, kansascity, "Digital Life: Tech in a nanny state or Ayn Rand wonderland," 29 May 2017 The party guests are playing a freeze-when-the-music-stops game, but Joe is off in his own world, not paying attention. Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, "‘The A Word’ Places Autism Front and Center MARCH 30, 2016," 12 July 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'when.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of when


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1616, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for when


Middle English, from Old English hwanne, hwenne; akin to Old High German hwanne when, Old English hwā who — more at who


Middle English, from Old English hwanne, hwenne, from hwanne, hwenne, adverb

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Time Traveler for when

Time Traveler

The first known use of when was before the 12th century

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Statistics for when

Cite this Entry

“When.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/when. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for when


How to pronounce when (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of when

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: at what time
: at, in, or during which
: at or during which time
How to pronounce when (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of when (Entry 2 of 3)

: at or during the time that
: just after the time that
: at any or every time that


How to pronounce when (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of when (Entry 3 of 3)

: what or which time


\ ˈhwen How to pronounce when (audio) , ˈwen, hwən, wən \

Kids Definition of when

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : at what time When did you leave?
2 : the time at which I was not sure of when they'd come.
3 : at, in, or during which It was hard to remember the time when they hadn't played that game …— Eleanor Estes, The Hundred Dresses

Kids Definition of when (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : at, during, or just after the time that She wants to leave when I do.
2 : in the event that : if When you have a question, raise your hand.
3 : although sense 1 Why do you tease, when you know it's wrong?
4 : the time at which Tomorrow is when we leave.



Kids Definition of when (Entry 3 of 3)

: what or which time Since when have you been an expert?

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More from Merriam-Webster on when

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for when

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with when

Spanish Central: Translation of when

Nglish: Translation of when for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of when for Arabic Speakers

Comments on when

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