\ 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 Research has found that schools can be safely reopened when protective measures are put in place, such as universal masking and good ventilation. Eric Umansky, ProPublica, "New York City Kills COVID Rule That Led to Repeated School Closings Despite No Evidence of Outbreaks," 8 Apr. 2021 But when Europe put up roadblocks, Kirkley found, Asia opened its doors. Alyson Sheppard, Robb Report, "Why This Michelin Three-Star Chef Left America for Culinary Glory in Hong Kong," 8 Apr. 2021 Public health experts say the virus is considered under control when the COVID-19 test positivity rate is under 5%. Cindy Krischer Goodman, sun-sentinel.com, "Florida reports 7,939 new COVID cases, a large daily increase with more people getting tested," 8 Apr. 2021 Pecoraro was a player when Hagerty’s Stone was an assistant with the Lions. J.c. Carnahan, orlandosentinel.com, "Softball friends clash Friday when Oviedo hosts Hagerty in district rematch," 8 Apr. 2021 For Kismatun, who lost her husband in a road accident when Faizan was a toddler, the wound is deep. Washington Post, "An Indian man died after being beaten by police on video. One year later, no one has been held accountable.," 8 Apr. 2021 My guess is it’s because bachelorette parties rose to prominence in the mid-1980s, a time when the country was lousy with bad comedy clubs. Jesse David Fox, Vulture, "Are Bachelorette Parties at Comedy Shows Actually … Good?," 8 Apr. 2021 And when there are fans, having the crowd cheer for you, is just a dream come true. Tony Baranek, chicagotribune.com, "Column: A great career at Richards. A scary ride on an ATV. But now, Sarah Murczek is in the driver’s seat as a sophomore at Loyola.," 8 Apr. 2021 Three good starts in a turn through the rotation allows a team room to breathe, saves the bullpen and makes for less pressure when there is a lead to protect. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Matt Harvey fittingly gets the ball for the Orioles’ home opener. Their rotation hinges on him. | ANALYSIS," 8 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Frankly, the question was never an if, but a when and a how. Nicholas Quah, Vulture, "Spotify Has Its Own Clubhouse Now," 30 Mar. 2021 How about a streaming product versus a must-see-when-and-where-cable-event? Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "TV Technica 2020: Our favorite shows and binges in a year of living distantly," 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, "Mike Anthony: Christyn Williams’ maturity shows in numbers and beyond as UConn rolls past Xavier," 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, "Hyde: Tua promotion was the right decision handled the wrong way | Commentary," 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, "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

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

Last Updated

10 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“When.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/when. Accessed 20 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for when



English Language Learners Definition of when

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: at what time
: at, in, or during which
: at or during which time

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



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

Nglish: Translation of when for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of when for Arabic Speakers

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