whence (wĕns, hwĕns)
1. From where; from what place: Whence came this traveler?
2. From what origin or source: Whence comes this splendid feast?
1. Out of which place; from or out of which.
2. By reason of which; from which: The dog was coal black from nose to tail, whence the name Shadow.
[Middle English whennes : whenne, whence (from Old English hwanon; see kwo- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots) + -es, genitive sing. suff.; see -S3.]
Usage Note: The construction from whence has been criticized as redundant since the 1700s. 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 1300s, among them Shakespeare, John Milton, Jane Austen, and the translators of 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, which is fairly rare and very formal in any case, as incorrect.
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