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[hwair-fawr, -fohr, wair-] /ˈʰwɛərˌfɔr, -ˌfoʊr, ˈwɛər-/
Archaic. for what? why?
for that cause or reason:
Wherefore let us be grateful.
the cause or reason:
to study the whys and wherefores of a situation.
Origin of wherefore
Middle English word dating back to 1150-1200; See origin at where, for
Can be confused
where, wherefore.
Synonym Study
2. See therefore. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for wherefore
Historical Examples
  • wherefore we must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake.

  • If thou art not, wherefore are the outcasts of the world so dear to thee?

    Leila, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • wherefore this caution against me, but (pardon me) for thine own undoing?

    Leila, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake.

    Slavery Ordained of God Rev. Fred A. Ross, D.D.
  • wherefore I returned them my humble thanks and offered my humble service.

    Albert Durer T. Sturge Moore
  • wherefore a man ought not to play the wanton, but should learn in season.

    Albert Durer T. Sturge Moore
  • He had a method of accepting things, without questioning the why and wherefore.

    White Fang Jack London
  • wherefore, what have I personally gained by quitting and what have I personally lost?

    The Old Game Samuel G. Blythe
  • wherefore he set in order the visible world, which he found in disorder.

    Timaeus Plato
  • wherefore it was covered by a peel or skin which met and grew by the help of the cerebral humour.

    Timaeus Plato
British Dictionary definitions for wherefore


(usually pl) an explanation or reason (esp in the phrase the whys and wherefores)
(archaic) for what reason? why?
sentence connector
(archaic or formal) for which reason: used as an introductory word in legal preambles
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 wherefore

c.1200, hwarfore, from where + for. Cf. Dutch waarvoor, Old Norse hvar fyrir, Swedish varfor.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with wherefore


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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