Meaning of WHEN in English

I. (|)hwen, (|)wen, _(h)wən adverb

Etymology: Middle English when, whan, from Old English hwenne, hwanne; akin to Old Frisian hwenne when, Old High German hwenne, hwanne, Gothic hwan when, how, Old English hwā who — more at who


a. : at what time : in what period : how long ago

asked him when it happened

: how soon : after how long a lapse of time

when will he return

b. : in what circumstances

when shall we three meet again — Shakespeare

2. : at which time : and then : whereupon

the tree will eventually die of old age and fall down when the problem solves itself — F.D.Smith & Barbara Wilcox

3. : at, in, or during which

a generation when medical science has … prolonged the span of life — New York Times

4. : enough

say when

5. : at a former time ; especially : at a less prosperous time

his old associates … brag fondly of having known him when — Vance Packard

II. conjunction

Etymology: Middle English when, whan, from Old English hwenne, hwanne, from hwenne, hwanne, adverb


a. : at or during the time that : while

on one occasion, when a boy, I went fishing with three other boys — W.J.Reilly

I could not say “Amen!” when they did say “God bless us!” — Shakespeare

b. : just after the moment that

please stop writing when the bell rings

went back to his old job when the war ended

c. : at any and every time that

when he listens to music, he falls asleep

2. : in the event that : on condition that : if

the batter is out when he bunts foul with two strikes on him


a. : considering that

why use water at all when you can drown in it — Stuart Chase

how can he buy the house when he has no money

b. : in spite of the fact that : although

he gave up politics when he might have made a great career in it

III. pronoun

Etymology: when (I)

: what or which time

in 1934, since when he has been working at landscapes and portraits — Horizon

IV. ˈhwen also ˈwen noun

( -s )

Etymology: when (I)

: the time in which something is done or comes about

piecing together the story of my visit there — the when and the why of it — W.B.Mowery

remembering exactly the who, when , what and how of any occasion — J.M.Barzun

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.