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 when on Wikipedia

Alternative formsEdit

  • wen (eye dialect)


From Middle English when(ne), whan(ne), from Old English hwenne, hwænne, hwonne (when), from Proto-Germanic *hwannē (at what time, when), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷis (interrogative base). Cognate with Dutch wanneer (when) and wen (when, if), Low German wannehr (when), wann (when) and wenn (if, when), German wann (when) and wenn (when, if), Gothic 𐍈𐌰𐌽 (ƕan, when, how), Latin quandō (when). More at who.

Interjection sense: a playful misunderstanding of "say when" (i.e. say when you want me to stop) as "say [the word] when".



when (not comparable)

  1. (interrogative) Used to introduce questions about time.
    When will they arrive?
  2. Used to introduce indirect questions about time.
    Do you know when they arrived?
    Do you know when they will arrive?
    Do you know when they arrive?
  3. At an earlier and less prosperous time.
    He's mister high and mighty now, but I remember him when.
  4. (indirect question) Used to refer to doubts about time.
    He doesn't know when to stop talking.



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  1. At what time.
    They were told when to sleep.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
      The Celebrity, by arts unknown, induced Mrs. Judge Short and two other ladies to call at Mohair on an afternoon when Mr. Cooke was trying a trotter on the track. [] Their example was followed by others at a time when the master of Mohair was superintending in person the docking of some two-year-olds, and equally invisible.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, Nobody, chapter III:
      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. At such time as.
    I’m happiest when I’m working.
  3. At the time of the action of the following clause or participle phrase
    It was raining when I came yesterday.
    The show will begin when I get there.
    The game is over when the referee says it is.
    Be careful when crossing the street.
    Pay attention when spoken to.
    When (you are) angry, count to ten before speaking or acting.
    That time when the dog stole the turkey from the table.
    • 2012 April 22, Sam Sheringham, “Liverpool 0-1 West Brom”, in BBC Sport:
      The Baggies had offered little threat until the 28th minute, but when their first chance came it was a clear one.
  4. Since; given the fact that.
    I don't see the point of putting up Christmas decorations when I am the only person who is going to see them.

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.



  1. (interrogative) What time; which time
    Since when do I need your permission?



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.


See alsoEdit



  1. That's enough, a command to stop adding something, especially an ingredient of food or drink.
    • 2004, Andy Husbands and Joe Yonan, The Fearless Chef: Innovative Recipes from the Edge of American Cuisine, page 83:
      When we go out to a restuarant, we're the guys who never say "when" when the waiter is grinding fresh pepper on our salads.
    • 2009, Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin, page 111:
      He keeps the bottle in the top bureau drawer; he takes it out, and two glasses, and pours. Say when.
      When, please.
    • 2011, Fritz Allhoff and Dave Monroe, Porn - Philosophy for Everyone: How to Think With Kink:
      Producers have the power to say "when" when the actress involved is too stressed to continue. That's responsible filmmaking.


Derived termsEdit