from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- adv. For what purpose, reason, or cause; with what intention, justification, or motive: Why is the door shut? Why do birds sing?
- conj. The reason, cause, or purpose for which: I know why you left.
- conj. Usage Problem On account of which; for which: "The reason why [regular verbs] are called regular is that we can predict what all the other three forms are” ( Randolph Quirk).
- n. The cause or intention underlying a given action or situation: studying the whys of antisocial behavior.
- n. A difficult problem or question.
- interj. Used to express mild surprise, indignation, or impatience.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- adv. For what cause, reason, or purpose.
- conj. The reason that.
- n. The reason.
- interj. Exclamation of mild surprise.
- n. A young heifer.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- adv. For what cause, reason, or purpose; on what account; wherefore; -- used interrogatively. See the Note under What, pron., 1.
- adv. For which; on account of which; -- used relatively.
- adv. The reason or cause for which; that on account of which; on what account; ; -- used as a compound relative.
- n. A young heifer.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- For what cause, reason, or purpose? wherefore?
- For which reason or cause; on account of which; for what or which; also, as compound relative, the thing or reason for or on account of which.
- An emphatic or often expletive use of the adverb.
- Used as a call or an exclamation.
- n. A dialectal form of quey.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. the cause or intention underlying an action or situation, especially in the phrase `the whys and wherefores'
Middle English, from Old English hwȳ.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old English hwȳ, hwī ("why", instrumental case of hwæt ("what"), literally "by what, for what"), from Proto-Germanic *hwī (“by what, how”), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷey, locative of *kʷís (“who”). Cognate with Middle High German wiu ("how, why"), Danish and Swedish hvi ("why"), Faroese and Icelandic hví ("why"), Latin cui ("to whom", dative case of quī ("who, how, why")), Ancient Greek πει (pei, "where"). Compare Old English þȳ ("because, since, on that account, therefore, then", literally "by that, for that"). See thy. (Wiktionary)