whys and wherefores

All the underlying causes and reasons, as in She went into the whys and wherefores of the adoption agency's rules and procedures. This idiom today is a redundancy since why and wherefore mean the same thing. Formerly, however, why indicated the reason for something and wherefore how it came to be. [c. 1600]


Nearby words

  1. why're,
  2. why's,
  3. whyalla,
  4. whydah,
  5. whydunnit,
  6. whyte classification,
  7. wi,
  8. wi-fi,
  9. wia,
  10. wiak

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