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Definition why

Etymology 1

From Middle English why, from Old English hwȳ, hwī (“why”, literally “by what, for what”), from Proto-Germanic *hwī (“by what, how”), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷey, instrumental case of *kʷis (“who”). Cognate with Old Saxon hwī (“why”), hwiu (“how; why”), Middle High German wiu (“how, why”), archaic Danish and Norwegian Bokmål hvi (“why”), Norwegian Nynorsk kvi (“why”), Swedish vi (“why”), Faroese and Icelandic hví (“why”), Latin quī (“why”), Ancient Greek πεῖ (peî, “where”). Compare Old English þȳ (“because, since, on that account, therefore, then”, literally “by that, for that”). See thy.

Adverb

why (not comparable)

  1. For what cause, reason, or purpose (interrogative adverb).
    1. Introducing a complete question.
    2. Introducing a verb phrase (bare infinitive clause).
    3. Introducing a noun or other phrase.
  2. For which cause, reason, or purpose (relative adverb).
Noun

why (plural whys)

  1. reason
Interjection

why

  1. An exclamation used to express indignation, mild surprise, or impatience.

Etymology 2

Noun

why (plural whies)

  1. (Britain, dialectal) A young heifer.

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