\ wəd, əd, d, ˈwu̇d How to pronounce would (audio) \

Definition of would

past tense of will

1 used in auxiliary function to express plan or intentionsaid we would come
2 : should knew I would enjoy the trip would be glad to know the answer
3 used in auxiliary function to express consent or choicewould put it off if he could
4 used in auxiliary function to express probability or presumption in past or present timewould have won if I had not tripped
5 used in auxiliary function to express a request with which voluntary compliance is expectedwould you please help us
6 used in auxiliary function with rather or sooner to express preferencehe would sooner die than face them
7a used in auxiliary function in the conclusion of a conditional sentence to express a contingency or possibilityif he were coming, he would be here now
b used in auxiliary function in a noun clause (such as one completing a statement of desire, request, or advice)we wish that he would go
8 used in auxiliary function to express custom or habitual actionwe would meet often for lunch
9 : could the barrel would hold 20 gallons
10 used in auxiliary function to express doubt or uncertaintythe explanation … would seem satisfactory
11a used in auxiliary function to express wish, desire, or intentthose who would forbid gambling
b used in auxiliary function to express willingness or preferenceas ye would that men should do to you — Luke 6:31 (King James Version)
12a : strongly desire : wish I would I were young again often used without a subject and with that in a past or conditional constructionwould that I had heeded your advice
b archaic : wished, desired
c archaic : wish for : want

First Known Use of would

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 12b

History and Etymology for would

Middle English wolde, from Old English; akin to Old High German wolta wished, desired

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about would

Time Traveler for would

Time Traveler

The first known use of would was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for would

Cite this Entry

“Would.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/would. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for would


How to pronounce would (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of would

used to indicate what someone said or thought about what was going to happen or be done
used to talk about a possible situation that has not happened or that you are imagining
used with have to talk about something that did not happen or was not done


\ wəd How to pronounce would (audio) , ˈwu̇d \

Kids Definition of would

past tense of will

1 used as a helping verb to show that something might be likely or meant to happen under certain conditionsThey would come if they could.If I were you, I would save my money.
2 used to describe what someone said, expected, or thoughtShe said she would help me.I thought it would take an hour.
3 used as a politer form of willWould you please stop?
4 : prefers or prefer to They would die rather than surrender.
5 : was or were going to We wish that you would go.
6 : is or are able to : could No stone would break that window.
7 : strongly desire : wish I would that I were home.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on would

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with would

Spanish Central: Translation of would

Nglish: Translation of would for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of would for Arabic Speakers

Comments on would

What made you want to look up would? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!