- Whence is defined as from what time or place.
An example of whence is asking a person where they are from by saying "From whence do you come?"
- Whence means from or to where.
An example of whence is saying you'll send a person back to where they came from; from when they came.
whence definition by Webster's New World
Origin: Middle English whennes (; from whenne, when plush adv. genitive -s), replacing Old English hwanan
- from what place, source, or cause: I know whence he comes
- from which place, source, or cause: we went home, whence we departed soon after
- to the place from which: return whence you came
- from which fact: there was no reply, whence he inferred that all had gone
whence definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- From where; from what place: Whence came this traveler?
- From what origin or source: Whence comes this splendid feast?
- Out of which place; from or out of which.
- By reason of which; from which: The dog was coal black from nose to tail, whence the name Shadow.
Origin: Middle English whennes : whenne, whence (from Old English hwanon; see kwo- in Indo-European roots) + -es, genitive sing. suff.; see -s3.Usage Note: The construction from whence has been criticized as redundant since the 18th century. It is true that whence incorporates the sense of from: a remote village, whence little news reached the wider world. But from whence has been used steadily by reputable writers since the 14th century, most notably in the King James Bible: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help” (Psalms). Such a respectable precedent makes it difficult to label the construction as incorrect. Still, it may be observed that whence (like thence) is most often used nowadays to impart an archaic or highly formal tone to a passage, and that this effect is probably better realized if the archaic syntax of the word—without from—is preserved as well.