whence » whenst

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • It is sad at times, to find not only students but instructors that forget from whenst they came. (Green Dragon Dispatch, Jan. 1, 1994)
  • Be gone, denizens of the nether regions! Back to the wallow from whenst thou came…. And taketh thy foul spawn with ye…. (Blog for America, Nov. 8, 2003)
  • That’s far more than she and Paris were paying, but far less than market in the city, which its astronomical rental prices even after the dotcom bust and 9/11 drove heaps of unemployed workers back from whenst they came. (American Idle, Sep. 10, 2004)
  • From Whenst Thou Comest
    What website did you visit just prior to hitting KUR? (Kill Ugly Radio, Nov. 27, 2004)

_Whenst_ often appears as a quasi-poetic or archaistic form of _when_, apparently on the model of _whilst_ — with extra reinforcement from archaic 2nd-person singular verb forms ending in _-(e)st_. But the eggcornier usage of _whenst_ is as a replacement for _whence_ (now typically appearing only in the frozen phrase “[from] whence X came”). The composition of the term is interpreted as _when_ plus the archaic-sounding suffix _-st_. (_Whence_ and _when_ are etymologically related, but only in the distant past — they both derive from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic adverb *hwan-.)

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/06/17 |

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