"Whence" or "From Whence"?

Similarly, thence & hence.

I was under the impression the “from” bit was implied by the “-ence” ending. Not true?

As many of us Dopers love pointing out, “from whence” et al. are all technically incorrect. However, it’s really become one of many battlegrounds in the prescription vs. description language debate. Here’s Dictionary.com’s take:

Just want to add that also

thence = from there
hence = from here

and the bonus round

wherefore = why

And thenceforth = from that moment onwards.

Yes…and I’m supposing that the “-ithers” fall into the same category? No from fo them either? Whither, thither, hither, dither…wait, not dither. That’s something else.

Either is acceptable, and was even when “whence” was in common usage.

But just like you don’t say “from hence” or “from thence,” there’s no reason to say “from whence.”

where here there
whence hence thence
wherefore *** therefore
whither hither thither
what *** that

There’s a pattern (even though some words are missing)!

As a matter of style, though, I think “from whence” should be avoided at all times, as it entails the incorrect use of a quaint word in an attempt to sound dignified. In other words it’s a genteelism.

If you must use ‘whence’, then leave out the ‘from’.

What’s wrong with herefore and hhat?

If the freaking King James Bible uses the ‘from whence’ construction, there is absolutely no possible argument that it is an ‘incorrect use’. You are free to argue that ‘whence’ without the ‘from’ is stylistically preferrable, but saying it is incorrect seems no more plausible than inveighing against split infinitives and sentence-ending prepositions. And that’s all I have to say about that at hhat time. (Wait, is ‘hhat time’ redundant?)

It may or may be not germain to this discussion, and my information is incomplete, but the Latin origins of this grammatical form (whence I assume our modern version harkens :wink: ) do not use “from”; the prepositions carry the sense of place (here, there) in themselves.

If “From Whence” was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.

But Jesus cannot help me hit a curveball…

Of course. Because we already know everything in the Bible is correct.


This really bugged me when watching LotR; Elrond says “the Ring must be cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came.” But then again, they were speaking Westron, not English. Hmm…

This is one of the silliest bits of pedantry out there.

“Whence” by itself does mean, “from where,” true. But the construction “from whence”, as noted by several people, has an ancient and honorable usage in the highest literary usage.

Redundancy is not a bete noire in language, but an essential part of its conveying of information. “I am” loads the information “this is in first person” onto both noun and verb. Quite simply, those who object are being pedantic in a manner not even appropriate to good English usage, inventing a “rule” without purpose or precedent.

“Depart, and go [from]whence thou camest!” is good English with or without the “from.”

I also don’t find the -ence and -ither forms archaic. They may be a trifle flowery for colloquial speech, but they do retain a specific purpose and meaning, and are used regularly if rarely in good formal English.

I don’t understand why some people say that “whence” is stylistically preferrable to “from whence.” “From whence” sounds much better, in my opinion. “the Ring must be cast back into the fiery chasm WHENCE it came” just doesn’t doesn’t sound as nice or prophetic. I assume that that is the same reason that it’s been used this whole time, and most writers who used it realized they were being redundant. The thing is, if your primary objective isn’t to sound cool, you shouldn’t be using the word “whence” at all. People who get upset by “from whence” should just shut up and say “from where.”

Brilliant point. English is full of redundancy.

I do just say “from where”, but it doesn’t keep me from hearing some pointy-ear say “from whence.” Irregardless, I wasn’t looking to start a style debate as much as I was just trying to confirm my understanding of meaning.

And redundancy is not necessarily a good thing. I can’t forgive usage of “7:00 a.m. in the morning.” It just grates. “-ence” is an ending that carries as much grammar ass it does atmosphere. I can see using it to promote an atmosphere, but using with the redundant “from” is distracting and competes with the user’s attempt at clairity. At least if the speaker is addressing one of us pedants.

[Buddy]"…so much fuss over a couple of extra Ss!"[/Buddy]

I’m suprised that someone who has a problem with “from whence”, has no problem with “irregardless”.