Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of would
Meaning of would by Wiktionary Dictionary


    Alternative forms

    • wou’d ( obsolete )


    • ( stressed )
      • ( UK, US, Australia ) IPA: /wʊd/, X-SAMPA: /wUd/
      • Rhymes: -ʊd
    • ( unstressed )
      • ( UK, US, Australia ) IPA: /wəd/, /əd/, X-SAMPA: /w@d/, /@d/
    • Homophone: wood



    1. As a past-tense form of will.
      1. ( obsolete ) Wished, desired ( something ). [9th-19th c.]
      2. ( archaic ) Wanted to ( + bare infinitive ). [from 9th c.]
      3. Used to; was or were habitually accustomed to ( + bare infinitive ); indicating an action in the past that happened repeatedly or commonly. [from 9th c.]
      4. Used with bare infinitive to form the "anterior future", indicating a futurity relative to a past time. [from 9th c.]
      5. ( archaic ) Used with ellipsis of the infinitive verb, or postponement to a relative clause, in various senses. [from 9th c.]
      6. Was determined to; loosely, could naturally have been expected to ( given the tendencies of someone's character etc. ). [from 18th c.]
    2. As a modal verb.
      1. Used to give a conditional or potential "softening" to the present; might, might wish. [from 9th c.]
      2. Used as the auxiliary of the simple conditional modality ( with a bare infinitive ); indicating an action or state that is conditional on another. [from 9th c.]
      3. ( chiefly archaic ) Might wish ( + verb in past subjunctive ); often used ( with or without that ) in the sense of "if only". [from 13th c.]
      4. Used to impart a sense of hesitancy or uncertainty to the present; might be inclined to. Now sometimes colloquially with ironic effect. [from 15th c.]
      5. Used interrogatively to express a polite request; are ( you ) willing to...? [from 15th c.]
        Would you pass the salt, please?
      6. ( chiefly archaic ) Might desire; wish ( something ). [from 15th c.]
        • 1608, William Shakespeare, King Lear, I.4:
          What dost thou professe? What would’st thou with vs?

    Usage notes


    See also


Definition of would by GCIDE Dictionary


  1. Weld ( wĕld ), n. [OE. welde; akin to Scot. wald, Prov. G. waude, G. wau, Dan. & Sw. vau, D. wouw.]

    1. ( Bot. ) An herb ( Reseda luteola ) related to mignonette, growing in Europe, and to some extent in America; dyer's broom; dyer's rocket; dyer's weed; wild woad. It is used by dyers to give a yellow color. [Written also woald, wold, and would.]

    2. Coloring matter or dye extracted from this plant.

  2. Will v. t. & auxiliary. [imp. Would Indic. present, I will ( Obs. I wol ), thou wilt, he will ( Obs. he wol ); we, ye, they will.] [OE. willen, imp. wolde; akin to OS. willan, OFries. willa, D. willen, G. wollen, OHG. wollan, wellan, Icel. & Sw. vilja, Dan. ville, Goth. wiljan, OSlav. voliti, L. velle to wish, volo I wish; cf. Skr. vṛ to choose, to prefer. Cf. Voluntary, Welcome, Well, adv.]

    1. To wish; to desire; to incline to have.

    A wife as of herself no thing ne sholde [should]

    Wille in effect, but as her husband wolde [would]. Chaucer.

    Caleb said unto her, What will thou ? Judg. i. 14.

    They would none of my counsel. Prov. i. 30.

    2. As an auxiliary, will is used to denote futurity dependent on the verb. Thus, in first person, “I will” denotes willingness, consent, promise; and when “will” is emphasized, it denotes determination or fixed purpose; as, “I will go if you wish; I will go at all hazards”. In the second and third persons, the idea of distinct volition, wish, or purpose is evanescent, and simple certainty is appropriately expressed; as, ““You will go,” or “He will go,” describes a future event as a fact only”. To emphasize will denotes ( according to the tone or context ) certain futurity or fixed determination.

    ☞ Will, auxiliary, may be used elliptically for will go. “I'll to her lodgings.” Marlowe.

    ☞ As in shall ( which see ), the second and third persons may be virtually converted into the first, either by question or indirect statement, so as to receive the meaning which belongs to will in that person; thus, “Will you go?” ( answer, “I will go” ) asks assent, requests, etc.; while “Will he go?” simply inquires concerning futurity; thus, also,“He says or thinks he will go,” “You say or think you will go,” both signify willingness or consent.

    ☞ Would, as the preterit of will, is chiefly employed in conditional, subjunctive, or optative senses; as, he would go if he could; he could go if he would; he said that he would go; I would fain go, but can not; I would that I were young again; and other like phrases. In the last use, the first personal pronoun is often omitted; as, would that he were here; would to Heaven that it were so; and, omitting the to in such an adjuration. “Would God I had died for thee.” Would is used for both present and future time, in conditional propositions, and would have for past time; as, he would go now if he were ready; if it should rain, he would not go; he would have gone, had he been able. Would not, as also will not, signifies refusal. “He was angry, and would not go in.” Luke xv. 28. Would is never a past participle.

    ☞ In Ireland, Scotland, and the United States, especially in the southern and western portions of the United States, shall and will, should and would, are often misused, as in the following examples: --

    I am able to devote as much time and attention to other subjects as I will [shall] be under the necessity of doing next winter. Chalmers.

    A countryman, telling us what he had seen, remarked that if the conflagration went on, as it was doing, we would [should] have, as our next season's employment, the Old Town of Edinburgh to rebuild. H. Miller.

    I feel assured that I will [shall] not have the misfortune to find conflicting views held by one so enlightened as your excellency. J. Y. Mason.

  3. Would imp. of Will. [OE. & AS. wolde. See Will, v. t.] Commonly used as an auxiliary verb, either in the past tense or in the conditional or optative present. See 2d & 3d Will.

    ☞ Would was formerly used also as the past participle of Will.

    Right as our Lord hath would. Chaucer.

  4. Would n. See 2d Weld.