why - definition and synonyms


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Why can be used in the following ways:
as a question adverb (introducing a direct or indirect question): Why didn’t you phone me?I know why he’s worried. (followed by an infinitive without ‘to’): We can start now, so why wait?
as a relative adverb (referring back to a noun and introducing a relative clause): She’s tired and that’s the reason why she’s so bad-tempered. (introducing a clause that is the subject, object, or complement of another clause): Everyone in Dublin is so friendly, and that is why I love the city.
as an interjection: Why, what’s the matter?
  1. 1
    used for asking the reason for something

    Why are you so angry?

    He asked me why I was leaving so early, and I didn’t know what to say.

    why is it that...?:

    Why is it that the country imports so much of its food?

    why ever (=used for showing that you are surprised):

    ‘She says she’s not coming to the wedding.’ ‘Why ever not?’

    1. a.
      used when someone knows or says the reason for something

      I don’t know why, but there’s something I don’t like about that woman.

      There are a lot of things we need to discuss, which is why I’m here.

      reason why:

      I can only think of one reason why Frank should be jealous.

  2. 2
    spoken used at the beginning of a comment or reply for showing that you are surprised

    ‘Henry’s arriving on the twenty-eighth.’ ‘Why, that’s tomorrow!’

    Why, I bet you never had the slightest intention of keeping your promise.