\ 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

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? See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Demand for biodiesel got a boost in July, when a state law went into effect that required all home heating oil to be blended with biodiesel. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 11 Sep. 2022 Still, Harsin and his staff must do better next week, when the competition levels up with Penn State coming to town. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, 11 Sep. 2022 Monday is the night when television asks viewers to tune in to the 2022 Emmy Awards on NBC, a celebration of TV at its finest. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, 11 Sep. 2022 There were other signs of offensive life, like when ASU shifted to an empty set on the second play of the second half, created confusion in the Cowboys’ secondary, and completed a 73-yard pass to Giovanni Sanders. Kent Somers, The Arizona Republic, 11 Sep. 2022 Drake’s efforts to make contact with other worlds didn’t stop when Project Ozma ended. WIRED, 11 Sep. 2022 The restaurant workers' advocacy group evolved from a relief center for Windows on the World workers who lost their jobs when the twin towers fell. Karen Matthews, BostonGlobe.com, 11 Sep. 2022 Randy Johnson stayed outside the park lodge when the governor spoke to a crowd inside. Bruce Schreiner, ajc, 11 Sep. 2022 Retired General Ben Hodges told our David Martin that Ukraine's military could push Russia back to the borders that existed pre-February 24th, when the invasion happened, and that could happen before the end of the year. CBS News, 11 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Ordinarily, sussing out the who-knows-what-and-when of damaging revelations is a Beltway parlor game. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 26 Apr. 2022 Bumblefest and normalcy are not words that often appear in the same sentence, but the Sept. 17 return of Steve Rullman’s modern-rock hootenanny in downtown West Palm Beach now feels like a comforting symbol of back-when. Ben Crandell, sun-sentinel.com, 6 Aug. 2021 Frankly, the question was never an if, but a when and a how. Nicholas Quah, Vulture, 30 Mar. 2021 How about a streaming product versus a must-see-when-and-where-cable-event? Ars Staff, Ars Technica, 26 Dec. 2020 Williams, in short, paired all her how-to with a when-to wherewithal sometimes absent in her first two seasons. Mike Anthony, courant.com, 20 Dec. 2020 Dan Marino lost his first game as a rookie starter way-back-when to Buffalo in overtime 38-35. Dave Hyde, sun-sentinel.com, 22 Oct. 2020 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, 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, 28 Oct. 2019 See More

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.

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

Last Updated

13 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“When.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/when. Accessed 24 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for when


\ 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?

More from Merriam-Webster on when

Nglish: Translation of when for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of when for Arabic Speakers

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