\ 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 The research came about when University of Rochester biology professors Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov were in Singapore in March prior to COVID-19-linked travel bans. Fox News, "Bats offer COVID-19 treatment clues, scientists say," 14 July 2020 Today, museum director Bob Kendrick is known to give visiting players tours of the museum when their teams are in town to play the Royals. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "Negro Leagues' 100th anniversary perfect time to recognize, remember significant era of baseball history," 14 July 2020 Ervin was the coach when the Summer Creek boys team won the Class 4A state title back in 2013, which was the first track and field state championship in Humble ISD history. Marcus Gutierrez, Houston Chronicle, "Ervin brothers hope to lead Summer Creek back to state after coronavirus setback," 13 July 2020 This is a moment when policing is under intense scrutiny across the country. Otis R. Taylor Jr., SFChronicle.com, "One thing clear from video of Sean Monterrosa shooting: Public can’t trust Vallejo police to be transparent," 13 July 2020 The previous record was April 19, when there were 1,380 new cases following heavy testing in state prisons. Laura Hancock, cleveland, "Ohio reporting 1,261 new coronavirus cases: Monday update," 13 July 2020 Flaggers will direct local traffic through the S curves when one lane is closed. oregonlive, "Portland metro Monday traffic: NW Cornelius Pass Road closed for months of road construction," 13 July 2020 Sure enough, when Donald Trump won in November 2016, investors greeted it as a risk-on event. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Why does Wall Street fear a Democrat in the White House? The data just doesn’t add up," 12 July 2020 The last of those came Nov. 30, when Art Collector won an optional claiming race by 7 ½ lengths. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, "Art Collector wins Blue Grass, gives longtime trainer Drury first shot at Kentucky Derby," 12 July 2020 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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Learn More about when

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

26 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“When.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/when. Accessed 3 Aug. 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

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