when
Pronunciation
  • (America) enPR hwĕn, IPA: /ʍɛn/, /wɛn/
    • (pin-pen) IPA: /ʍɪn/, /wɪn/
  • (Ireland, Scotland) enPR: hwĕn, IPA: /ʍɛn/
  • (RP) enPR: wĕn, IPA: /wɛn/

Adverb

when (not comparable)

  1. (interrogative) At what time? At which time? Upon which occasion or circumstance? Used to introduce direct or indirect questions about time.
    When will they arrive?
    Do you know when they arrived?
    I don't know when they arrived.
    When they arrived is unknown.
    • 1834, Samuel Kirkham, English Grammar in Familiar Lectures, page 117:
      What words are used as interrogative pronouns? — Give examples.
      When are the words, what, which, and that, called adj. pron.?
      When are they called interrogative pronominal adjectives?
  2. At an earlier time and under different, usually less favorable, circumstances.
    He's mister high and mighty now, but I remember him when.
  3. (relative) At which, on which, during which: often omitted or replaced with that.
    That was the day when the Twin Towers fell.
Translations Translations
Conjunction
  1. At (or as soon as) that time that; at the (or any and every) time that; if.
    Pavlov's dogs salivate when [i.e. at any and every time that] they hear a bell.
    Put your pencil down when [i.e. as soon as, at the moment that] the timer goes off.
    A player wins when [as soon as, or at any time that, if] she has four cards of the same suit.
    A student is disqualified when [as soon as, if] they cheat.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, chapter III, in Nobody, New York, N.Y.: George H[enry] Doran Company, published 1915, OCLC 40817384 ↗:
      Turning back, then, toward the basement staircase, she began to grope her way through blinding darkness, but had taken only a few uncertain steps when, of a sudden, she stopped short and for a little stood like a stricken thing, quite motionless save that she quaked to her very marrow in the grasp of a great and enervating fear.
  2. During the time that; at the time of the action of the following clause or participle phrase.
    They dream when [i.e. during the time that] they sleep.
    I'm happiest when [during the time that, or at any time that] I’m working.
    It was raining when I came yesterday.
    The game is over when the referee says it is.
    Be careful when crossing the street.
    When (you are) angry, count to ten before speaking or acting.
  3. At what time; at which time.
    I am here till Friday, when [i.e. at which time] I leave for Senegal.
    I was just walking down the street, when [i.e. at which time] all of a sudden it started to rain.
    • 1839, John Donne, The Works of John Donne: Sermons, Letters, Poems, page 310:
      I am at London only to provide for Monday, when I shall use that favour which my Lady Bedford hath afforded me, of giving her name to my daughter; which I mention to you, [...]
  4. Since; given the fact that; considering that.
    I don't see the point of putting up Christmas decorations when I am the only person who is going to see them.
  5. Whereas; although; at the same time as; in spite of the fact that.
    You're picking at your scabs when you should be letting them heal.
    He keeps changing things when the existing system works perfectly well.
    • 1840, Francis Beaumont, Knight of the Burning Pestle, ii. 2, in The Works of Beaumont and Fletcher with an Introduction by George Darley, page 81:
      Oh, age, Where only wealthy men are counted happy! How shall I please thee, how deserve thy smiles, When I am only rich in misery?
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations Translations
Pronoun
  1. (interrogative) What time; which time.
    Since when do I need your permission?
    • circa 1611 William Shakespeare, Tempest:
      Shortly [...] I'll resolve you [...] these happen'd accidents, till when, be cheerful.
    • 1831 (published), John Davies, Orchestra Or, a Poem of Dancing, in Robert Southey, Select Works of the British Poets: From Chaucer to Jonson, with Biographical Sketches, page 706:
      Homer, to whom the Muses did carouse
      A great deep cup with heav'nly nectar fill'd,
      The greatest, deepest cup in Jove's great house,
      (For Jove himself had so expressly will'd)
      He drank off all, nor let one drop be spill'd;
      Since when, his brain that had before been dry,
      Became the well-spring of all poetry.
    • 1833, William Potts Dewees, A Treatise on the Diseases of Females, page 495:
      [This] we imagined might have been owing to some accidental condition of the system, or perhaps idiosyncracy; this led us to a second trial, but we experienced the same inconveniences, since when, we have altogether abandoned their use.
    • 2012, Emile Letournel, Robert Judet, Fractures of the Acetabulum, Springer Science & Business Media (ISBN 9783642754357), page 385:
      So we combined the Kocher-Langenbeck and iliofemoral approach until 1965, since when we have combined the ilioinguinal and Kocher-Langenbeck approaches.
  2. The time that.
    I recall when they were called the Greys.
    Next year is when we elect a new mayor.
Translations
Noun

when (plural whens)

  1. The time at which something happens.
    A good article will cover the who, the what, the when, the where, the why and the how.
    • 2008, Paolo Aite, Lanscapes of the Psyche, Ipoc Press (ISBN 9788895145211), page 151:
      For the moment, suffice it to say that the stories told through the whens and hows of building a scene differentiate individual desires and needs more clearly than shared speech was up to then able to communicate.
Translations
Interjection
  1. That's enough, a command to stop adding something, especially an ingredient of food or drink.
  2. (obsolete) Expressing impatience. (Compare what.)
    • circa 1590, William shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew, act 4, scene 1:
      Why, when, I say? ...
      Off with my boots, you rogues! You villains, when? ...
      Out, you rogue!
    • circa 1615-1657 Thomas Middleton, More Dissemblers Besides Women, volume 1:
      Why, when? begin, sir: I must stay your leisure.
    • circa 1600 Sir John Oldcastle, iv. 1:
      Set, parson, set; the dice die in my hand.
      When, parson, when! what, can you find no more?
Translations


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