[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. whereabouts,
  2. whereafter,
  3. whereas,
  4. whereat,
  5. whereby,
  6. wherefores,
  7. wherefrom,
  8. wherein,
  9. whereinto,
  10. whereof

Origin of wherefore

Middle English word dating back to 1150–1200; see origin at where, for

Can be confusedwhere wherefore

Synonym study

2. See therefore.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wherefore

British Dictionary definitions for wherefore


/ (ˈwɛəˌfɔː) /


(usually plural) 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

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

Idioms and Phrases with wherefore


see whys and wherefores.

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