Whence (?), adv. [OE. whennes, whens (with adverbial s, properly a genitive ending; -- see -wards), also whenne, whanene, AS. hwanan, hwanon, hwonan, hwanone; akin to D. when. See When, and cf. Hence, Thence.]

1.

From what place; hence, from what or which source, origin, antecedent, premise, or the like; how; -- used interrogatively.

Whence hath this man this wisdom? Matt. xiii. 54.

Whence and what art thou? Milton.

2.

From what or which place, source, material, cause, etc.; the place, source, etc., from which; -- used relatively.

Grateful to acknowledge whence his good Descends. Milton.

⇒ All the words of this class, whence, where, whither, whereabouts, etc., are occasionally used as pronouns by a harsh construction.

O, how unlike the place from whence they fell? Milton.

From whence, though a pleonasm, is fully authorized by the use of good writers.

From whence come wars and fightings among you? James iv. 1.

Of whence, also a pleonasm, has become obsolete.

 

© Webster 1913.

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