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Avoid these words. Seriously.


[th en] /ðɛn/
at that time:
Prices were lower then.
immediately or soon afterward:
The rain stopped and then started again.
next in order of time:
We ate, then we started home.
at the same time:
At first the water seemed blue, then gray.
next in order of place:
Standing beside Charlie is my uncle, then my cousin, then my brother.
in addition; besides; also:
I love my job, and then it pays so well.
in that case; as a consequence; in those circumstances:
If you're sick, then you should stay in bed.
since that is so; as it appears; therefore:
You have, then, found the mistake? You are leaving tonight then.
being; being such; existing or being at the time indicated:
the then prime minister.
that time:
We have not been back since then. Till then, farewell.
but then, but on the other hand:
I found their conversation very dull, but then I have different tastes.
then and there, at that precise time and place; at once; on the spot:
I started to pack my things right then and there.
Also, there and then.
Origin of then
before 900; Middle English then(ne), than(n)e, Old English thonne, thanne, thænne; cf. than; akin to that
Can be confused
than, then.
Synonym Study
8. See therefore. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for thens
Historical Examples
  • There is the old shepherd, Will, but he only comes into the house by nows and thens.

    Out in the Forty-Five Emily Sarah Holt
  • All the story was dragged from him by reiterated "And thens—?"

    A Young Man's Year Anthony Hope
  • She went fest, I do sepose to Olyhed, and thens to Liverpule in one of them pakkats.

    Willing to Die Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  • Thence, thens, adv. from that time or place: for that reason.

  • This is nonsense: there can be no such thing as a now and then, nor, of course, a number of now and thens.

    Write It Right Ambrose Bierce
  • We do hear of old Nanny, that cometh by nows and thens for waste victuals, that daft Madge is something sick.

    Joyce Morrell's Harvest Emily Sarah Holt
  • Think you God, that is up in Heaven, taketh note of a white lie or twain, or a few cross words by nows and thens?

    The White Lady of Hazelwood Emily Sarah Holt
  • They seemed like very far between "nows and thens" to Mae, averaging possibly a distance of four minutes apart.

    Mae Madden Mary Murdoch Mason
  • Some of the scenes that are to be seen by nows and thens in Westminster Palace are enough to set your hair on end.

    One Snowy Night Emily Sarah Holt
  • There she was coming down the lane as peaceable as could be, and staying by nows and thens to crop the grass by the roadside.

    The Gold that Glitters Emily Sarah Holt
British Dictionary definitions for thens


at that time; over that period of time
(sentence modifier) in that case; that being so: then why don't you ask her?, if he comes, then you'll have to leave, go on then, take it
then and there, See there (sense 6)
sentence connector
after that; with that: then John left the room and didn't return
that time: before then, from then on
(prenominal) existing, functioning, etc, at that time: the then prime minister
Word Origin
Old English thenne; related to Old Saxon, Old High German thanna; see than
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for thens


adverb of time, from Old English þanne, þænne, þonne, from Proto-Germanic *thana- (cf. Old Frisian thenne, Old Saxon thanna, Dutch dan, Old High German danne, German dann), from PIE demonstrative pronoun root *to- (see the). For further sense development, see than. Similar evolutions in other Germanic languages; Dutch uses dan in both senses, but German has dann (adv.) "then," denn (conj.) "than." Now and then "at various times" is attested from 1550s; earlier then and then (c.1200).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with thens
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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