AskDefine | Define were

The Collaborative Dictionary

Were \Were\, v. t. & i. To wear. See 3d Wear. [Obs.] --Chaucer. [1913 Webster]
Were \Were\, n. A weir. See Weir. [Obs.] --Chaucer. Sir P. Sidney. [1913 Webster]
Were \Were\, v. t. [AS. werian.] To guard; to protect. [Obs.] --Chaucer. [1913 Webster]
Were \Were\ (w[~e]r; 277). [AS. w[=ae]re (thou) wast, w[=ae]ron (we, you, they) were, w[=ae]re imp. subj. See Was.] The imperfect indicative plural, and imperfect subjunctive singular and plural, of the verb be. See Be. [1913 Webster]
Were \Were\ (w[=e]r), n. [AS. wer; akin to OS. & OHG. wer, Goth. wa['i]r, L. vir, Skr. v[imac]ra. Cf. Weregild, and Werewolf.] [1913 Webster]
A man. [Obs.] [1913 Webster]
A fine for slaying a man; the money value set upon a man's life; weregild. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Every man was valued at a certain sum, which was called his were. --Bosworth. [1913 Webster]

Word Net

were See be



  • qualifier stressed
    • a UK /wɜː(ɹ)/, /w3:(r\)/
    • a US , /wɝ/, /w3`/
  • qualifier unstressed
    • a UK /wə(ɹ)/, /w@(r\)/
    • a US , /wɚ/, /w@`/
Rhymes with: -ɜː(r)



  1. Second-person singular simple past tense indicative of be.
    John, you were the only person to see him.
  2. First-person plural simple past tense indicative of be.
    We were about to leave.
  3. Second-person plural simple past tense indicative of be.
    Mary and John, you were right.
  4. Third-person plural simple past tense indicative of be.
    They were a fine group.
  5. Simple past tense subjunctive in all persons of be.
    I wish it were Sunday.
    I wish I were with you.
    • with "if" omitted, put first in an "if" clause:
    Were it simply that she wore a hat, I would not be upset at all. (= If it were simply...)
    Were father a king, we would have war. (= If father were a king,...)


  • (second-person singular past indicative, archaic) wast (used with "thou")
  • (second-person singular past subjunctive, archaic) wert (used with "thou")

See also


  1. archaic for man (human male), see werewolf, weregild, world.
Were and wer are archaic terms for adult male humans and were often used for alliteration with wife as "were and wife" in Germanic-speaking cultures (Old English were, German Wehr, Gothic waír, Old Frisian wer, Old Saxon wer, Old High German wer, Old Norse verr).
In folklore and fantasy fiction, were- is often used as a prefix applied to an animal name to indicate a type of shapeshifter (e.g. "were-boar"). Hyphenation used to be mandatory but is now commonly dropped, as in werecat and wererat. This usage can be seen as a back formation from werewolf (literally, "man-wolf"), as there is no equivalent wifewolf. A further back formation, polywere, eliminates the animal root entirely.
Gothic has a word translating kosmos derived from the same stem: faírhvus, used by Wulfila in alternation with manasêþs. The corresponding West Germanic term is werold "world", literally wer "man" + ald "age". Gothic faírhvus is cognate to Old High German fërah, Old English feorh, terms expressing "lifetime" (aevum).
The word has cognates in various other languages, for example, the words vir (as in virile) and fear (plural fir as in Fir Bolg) are the Latin and Gaelic for man.


See also

were in Japanese: Were
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