[ hwen, wen; unstressed hwuh n, wuh n ]
/ ʰwɛn, wɛn; unstressed ʰwən, wən /
at what time or period? how long ago? how soon?: When are they to arrive? When did the Roman Empire exist?
under what circumstances? upon what occasion?: When is a letter of condolence in order? When did you ever see such a crowd?
at what time: to know when to be silent.
at the time or in the event that: when we were young; when the noise stops.
at any time; whenever: He is impatient when he is kept waiting.
upon or after which; and then: We had just fallen asleep when the bell rang.
while on the contrary; considering that; whereas: Why are you here when you should be in school?
what time: Till when is the store open?
which time: They left on Monday, since when we have heard nothing.
the time of anything: the when and the where of an act.
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Question 1 of 7
Origin of when
Words nearby when
Definition for when (2 of 2)
[ hwenz, wenz ]
/ ʰwɛnz, wɛnz /
contraction of when is: When's the show over?
contraction of when does: When's the next train leave?
contraction of when has: When's he ever been an authority?
usage note for when's
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
British Dictionary definitions for when
/ (wɛn) /
- at what time? over what period?when is he due?
- (used in indirect questions)ask him when he's due
say when to state when an action is to be stopped or begun, as when someone is pouring a drink
(subordinating) at a time at which; at the time at which; just as; afterI found it easily when I started to look seriously
althoughhe drives when he might walk
considering the fact thathow did you pass the exam when you'd not worked for it?
at which (time); over which (period)an age when men were men
(usually plural) a question as to the time of some occurrence
Word Origin for when
Old English hwanne, hwænne; related to Old High German hwanne, hwenne, Latin cum
usage for when
When should not be used loosely as a substitute for in which after a noun which does not refer to a period of time: paralysis is a condition in which (not when) parts of the body cannot be moved
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
Idioms and Phrases with when
In addition to the idioms beginning with when
- when all's said and done
- when in Rome do as the Romans do
- when it comes to
- when least expected
- when one's back is turned
- when one's ship comes in
- when pigs fly
- when the cat's away, the mice will play
- when the chips are down
- when the dust has settled
- when the going gets tough, the tough get going
- when the shit hits the fan
- cross a bridge when one comes to it
- push comes to shove, when
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.