how come



Probably from older forms such as “How comes it that... ?” and “How did it come to be like this?”[1]

Earlier historical forms:

“How comes it then that this her cold so great is not dissolved through my so hot desire ...”, Edmund Spenser in “Sonnet 30”, 1611
“But prithee how comes it to passe that you act Tragedies every day.”, Tho. Bates, “The Stage-players Complaint: In a Pleasant Dialogue Betweene Cane of the Fortune, and Reed of the Friers, Deploring Their Sad and Solitary Conditions for Want of Imployment, in this Heavie and Contagious Time of the Plague in London”, 1641

Compare West Frisian hoe kom (how come), Dutch hoe komt het (how come it; why).


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how come

  1. (idiomatic, informal) Why; why is it; for what reason or purpose?
    How come you didn’t leave when you had the chance?

Usage notesEdit

“How come” differs from “why” in that the word order of the question is the same as that of a statement. Compare:

You didn’t leave. (statement)
How come you didn’t leave?
Why didn’t you leave?