[ hou ]
/ haʊ /




Nearby words

  1. hoverport,
  2. hovertrain,
  3. hovey,
  4. hovhaness,
  5. hovhaness, alan,
  6. how about,
  7. how about that?,
  8. how are you?,
  9. how come?,
  10. how do


Origin of how

before 900; Middle English how, hu, Old English hū; cognate with Old Frisian hū, ho, Dutch hoe; akin to German wie (Old High German hweo), Gothic hwaiwa Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for how come


/ (haʊ) /



the way a thing is donethe how of it

Word Origin for how

Old English hu; related to Old Frisian hū, Old High German hweo


/ (haʊ) /

sentence substitute

a greeting supposed to be or have been used by American Indians and often used humorously

Word Origin for how

C19: of Siouan origin; related to Dakota háo

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

Word Origin and History for how come
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with how come

how come?

How is it that, as in How come you're not attending the conference? Sometimes how come follows a statement and asks the question “why” or “in what way,” as in You're not going? How come? The related phrase how so? functions the same way, as in You say she's changed her mind—how so? How come is short for how did it come about that and dates from the mid-1800s; how so, short for how is it so or how is it that , dates from about 1300.


In addition to the idioms beginning with how

  • how about
  • how about that?
  • how are you?
  • how come?
  • how does that grab you?
  • how do you do?
  • how goes it
  • howling success
  • how so?
  • how the land lies
  • how the wind blows

also see:

  • and how
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.