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Etymology 1Edit



  1. (archaic) Contraction of if and when.

Etymology 2Edit

Of uncertain origin.[1] The spelling ef'n is attested since at least 1909.[2] Perhaps a compound of if and an (if) (a variant, attested since Middle English, of and (if); compare an if and gin (if));[1][2] if an is attested since at least the 1700s.[2] Alternatively, perhaps a compound of if and -in', generalized from conjunctional uses of considering, excepting, and so on,[1] or of if and -en as in offen (off),[3] outen (out)[3] (which goes back to Old English ūtan), etc. Compare less'n.



  1. (chiefly Southern US, Midland US, and some dialects in Britain) If.
Alternative formsEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 iffen” in Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–present.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Grammarphobia: iffen, which also says the Dictionary of American Regional English speculates that if and is the origin
  3. 3.0 3.1 Paul Dickerson Brandes, Jeutonne Brewer, Dialect clash in America: issues and answers (1977), page 296: The en suffix also appears in words other than verbs, e.g., outen in "Git outen thishere house"[,] offen in "I done bought it offen him fer tin cints"; and iffen in "Iffen you'uz to tell me he'uz daid, I wou'nt believe ye."