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wherefore

adverb where·fore \ ˈhwer-ˌfȯr , ˈwer- \

Definition of wherefore

1 :for what reason or purpose :why

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Examples of wherefore in a Sentence

  1. it was getting late, and wherefore we decided to move on

wherefore and Shakespeare

When Shakespeare's Juliet asks, "O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" she is not inquiring into her beloved's whereabouts. Rather she is asking why it is that Romeo must be Romeo, a member of the Montague family and, therefore, an enemy of Juliet's own family, the Capulets. Yet, wherefore does wherefore mean "why"? Starting in the early 13th century, a number of new words were formed by combining where with a preposition. In such words, where had the meaning of "what" or "which," giving the English language such adverbs as wherein ("in what"), whereon ("on what"), and wherefore ("for what"). English speakers have largely dropped the adverb wherefore in favor of why, but the noun wherefore, meaning "an answer or statement giving an explanation," continues to be used, particularly in the phrase "the whys and wherefores."

Origin and Etymology of wherefore

Middle English wherfor, wherfore, from where, wher + for, fore for

wherefore Synonyms


2

wherefore

noun

Definition of wherefore

:an answer or statement giving an explanation :reason
  • wants to know the whys and wherefores

Examples of wherefore in a Sentence

  1. demanded to know the whys and wherefores for the decision

Recent Examples of wherefore from the Web

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

First Known Use of wherefore

1590



WHEREFORE Defined for English Language Learners

wherefore

adverb

Definition of wherefore for English Language Learners

  • —used in the past to mean “why”


WHEREFORE Defined for Kids

wherefore

adverb where·fore \ ˈhwer-ˌfȯr , ˈwer- \

Definition of wherefore for Students

:1why


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