[hwairz, wairz]

contraction of where is: Where's my belt?
contraction of where has: Where's he been all night?
contraction of where does: Where's he study law?

Usage note


[hwair, wair]


in or at what place?: Where is he? Where do you live?
in what position or circumstances?: Where do you stand on this question? Without money, where are you?
in what particular respect, way, etc.?: Where does this affect us?
to what place, point, or end? whither?: Where are you going?
from what source? whence?: Where did you get such a notion?


in or at what place, part, point, etc.: Find where he is. Find where the trouble is.
in or at the place, part, point, etc., in or at which: The book is where you left it.
in a position, case, etc., in which: Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise.
in any place, position, case, etc., in which; wherever: Use the ointment where pain is felt.
to what or whatever place; to the place or any place to which: I will go where you go.
in or at which place; and there: They came to the town, where they lodged for the night.


what place?: Where did you come from?
the place in which; point at which: This is where the boat docks. That was where the phone rang.


a place; that place in which something is located or occurs: the wheres and hows of job hunting.


    where it's at, Slang. where the most exciting, prestigious, or profitable activity or circumstance is to be found.

Origin of where

before 900; Middle English quher, wher, Old English hwǣr; cognate with Dutch waar, Old High German hwār; akin to Old Norse hvar, Gothic hwar
Can be confusedwe're were wherewhere wherefore (see usage note at the current entry)

Usage note

Whereat ( Where was he at? ) and whereto ( Where is this leading to? ) are often criticized as redundant because neither at nor to adds anything to the meaning of where, and sentences like the preceding ones are perfectly clear and standard without the final at or to. This criticism does not apply to wherefrom, which is fully standard: Where does the money come from? The constructions whereat and whereto occur in the speech of educated people but are rare in formal speech and edited writing.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for where's



  1. in, at, or to what place, point, or position?where are you going?
  2. (used in indirect questions)I don't know where they are
in, at, or to which (place)the hotel where we spent our honeymoon
(subordinating) in the place at whichwhere we live it's always raining


(usually plural) a question as to the position, direction, or destination of something

Word Origin for where

Old English hwǣr, hwār (a); related to Old Frisian hwēr, Old Saxon, Old High German hwār, Old Norse, Gothic hvar


It was formerly considered incorrect to use where as a substitute for in which after a noun which did not refer to a place or position, but this use has now become acceptable: we now have a situation where/in which no further action is needed
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 where's



Old English hwær, hwar, from Proto-Germanic *khwar (cf. Old Saxon hwar, Old Norse hvar, Old Frisian hwer, Middle Dutch waer, Old High German hwar, German wo, Gothic hvar "where"), from PIE interrogative base *qwo- (see who).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with where's


In addition to the idioms beginning with where

  • where do we go from here
  • where it's at
  • where one is coming from
  • where one lives
  • where there's a will, there's a way
  • where there's smoke

also see:

  • close to home (hit where one lives)
  • fools rush in where angels fear to tread
  • give credit (where credit is due)
  • know where one stands
  • let the chips fall where they may
  • not know where to turn
  • put one's money where one's mouth is
  • take up where one left off
  • tell someone where to get off
  • this is where I came in
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.