\ ˈ(h)wen(t)s How to pronounce whence (audio) \

Definition of whence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: from what place, source, or cause then whence comes this paradoxChanging Times
from whence
: from what place, source, or cause no one could tell me from whence the gold had come— Graham Greene



Definition of whence (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : from what place, source, or cause inquired whence the water came— Maria Edgeworth
2a : from or out of which place, source, or cause the lawless society whence the ballads sprang— DeLancey Ferguson
b : by reason of which fact nothing broke—whence I infer that my bones are not yet chalky— O. W. Holmes †1935

Examples of whence in a Sentence

Adverb They returned to the land whence they came.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb In the season 4 finale of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the titular super-screwups publicly defeated the demon Neron, thus erasing the dystopian future from whence cynical hacktivist Zari (Tala Ashe) initially came. Chancellor Agard, EW.com, 22 Jan. 2020

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

First Known Use of whence


13th century, in the meaning defined above


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for whence


Middle English whennes, from whenne whence (from Old English hwanon) + -s, adverb suffix, from -s, genitive singular ending; akin to Old High German hwanān whence, Old English hwā who

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Time Traveler for whence

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The first known use of whence was in the 13th century

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Cite this Entry

“Whence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whence. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for whence


\ ˈhwens How to pronounce whence (audio) , ˈwens \

Kids Definition of whence

1 : from what place, source, or cause Whence come all these questions?
2 : from or out of which We knew little of the land whence they came.

More from Merriam-Webster on whence

Nglish: Translation of whence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of whence for Arabic Speakers


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