What does why mean?

Definitions for why
ʰwaɪ, waɪwhy

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word why.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. why, whereforenoun

    the cause or intention underlying an action or situation, especially in the phrase `the whys and wherefores'


  1. whynoun

    The reason.

    A good article will cover the who, the what, the when, the where, the why and the how.

  2. whyadverb

    For what cause, reason, or purpose.

    Why did you do that?

  3. whyconjunction

    The reason that.

    I don't know why he did that.

  4. whyinterjection

    Exclamation of mild surprise.

    Why, I think it would work fine!

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Whyadverb

    Etymology: hwi, forhwi , Saxon.

    They both deal justly with you; why? not from any regard they have for justice, but because their fortune depends on their credit. Jonathan Swift.

    Mortar will not have attained its utmost compactness till fourscore years after it has been employed; and this is one reason why, in demolishing ancient fabricks, it is more easy to break the stone than the mortar. Boyle.

    No ground of enmity
    Why he should mean me ill. John Milton.

    Such, whose sole bliss is eating; who can give
    But that one brutal reason, why they live. Dryden.

    Shall I tell you why: ——
    —— Ay, sir, and wherefore; for they say,
    Every why hath a wherefore. William Shakespeare.

    I was dispatch’d for their defence and guard;
    And listen why, for I will tell you now. John Milton.

    We examine the why, the what and the how of things. Roger L'Estrange.

    Turn the discourse; I have a reason why
    I would not have you speak so tenderly. Dryden.

    Ninus’ tomb, man; why, you must not speak that yet: that you answer to Pyram. William Shakespeare.

    You have not been a-bed then?
    Why, no; the day had broke before we parted. William Shakespeare.

    Whence is this? why: from that essential suitableness which obedience has to the relation which is between a rational creature and his Creator. Robert South, Sermons.


  1. Why

    Why is a song by 3T. It was written by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and produced by Michael Jackson. This single comes from the album Brotherhood and it was released in 1996. The song was selected to be part of Jackson's ninth album HIStory, but it was taken out and Jackson decided to give it away to his nephews. This song was well received in European and Asian charts. A music video was produced to promote the single. It features 3T and Jackson and is shot in black and white. The music video was released on the Michael Jackson's box set, Michael Jackson's Vision.


  1. Why

    "Why" is an adverb used to ask for the reason, cause, or purpose of something. It is typically used to inquire about the motive or explanation behind an action, event, or decision.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Whyadverb

    for what cause, reason, or purpose; on what account; wherefore; -- used interrogatively. See the Note under What, pron., 1

  2. Whyadverb

    for which; on account of which; -- used relatively

  3. Whyadverb

    the reason or cause for which; that on account of which; on what account; as, I know not why he left town so suddenly; -- used as a compound relative

  4. Whynoun

    a young heifer

  5. Etymology: [OE. whi, why, AS. hw, hw, instrumental case of hw, hwt; akin to Icel. hv why, Dan. & Sw. hvi; cf. Goth. hw. . See Who.]


  1. Why

    "Why" is the first solo single by the Scottish singer Annie Lennox, released in 1992. It was taken from her debut solo album Diva and reached no.5 in the United Kingdom and number thirty-four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The single also reached no.6 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart. The music video won Lennox an award for Best Female Video at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Why

    hwī, adv. and conj. for what cause or reason? on which account: wherefore.—interj. used us an expletive or exclamation.—n. Why′-not (obs.), a dilemma.—Why, so (Shak.), an expression of unwilling consent.—The cause why, The reason why, the reason why a thing is, or is to be done; The why and wherefore, the whole reason. [A.S. hwí, hwý, instrumental case of hwá, who.]

Editors Contribution

  1. why

    The reason.

    We knew why and it was accepted.

    Submitted by MaryC on March 20, 2020  

Suggested Resources

  1. WHY

    What does WHY stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the WHY acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'why' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #193

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'why' in Written Corpus Frequency: #134

  3. Adverbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'why' in Adverbs Frequency: #29

How to pronounce why?

How to say why in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of why in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of why in Pythagorean Numerology is: 2

Examples of why in a Sentence

  1. Vladimir Kazarin:

    That is why we only have oxandrolone and primobolan and, at some point in the early stages, just a little, you can do a few ampoules of EPO, of course. But make sure there are no checks at the time, nothing like that.

  2. Hillary Clinton:

    I'm impressed with them, and I'm going to do everything I can to reach out and explain why good ideas on paper are important, but you've got to be able to translate that into action, here's what I want young people to know: They don't have to be for me. I'm going to be for them.

  3. Federal Reserve:

    Eventually expansions come to an end, the business cycle has not been repealed. But I would say there's no reason why this economy can not continue to expand.

  4. Steve Sandvoss:

    Nothing is ever 100 percent protected and guaranteed. But this is why were transparent, upfront about what we are doing and how we are doing it, so that the public knows that it is an everyday activity of being active, vigilant and prepared to do whats right to shore up the integrity of the system we are certainly, he said, going to be vigilant and prepared.

  5. Pat Magee:

    We’re not saying there needs to be an absence of punishment. No, but the punishment needs to fit the behavior. That’s why you have a rubric, and when you misuse the rubrics by saying, ‘It’s any other serious offense.’ Then you know they don’t really have a cause of action to justify what they’re doing. They’re making it up as they go along.

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Translations for why

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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    Lengthy word or many syllables.
    A commensal
    B splay
    C sesquipedalian
    D bristly

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