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Where did the word "henceforth" originated? How could I determine the correct usage of it? Is it also the same with "from this time forward?"

  • "Compound" words like henceforth, thenceforth, hereinafter, hereat, thereat are generally in decline, so unless you specifically want to sound "dated, formal, fusty" you should probably avoid them. Very few young people would naturally use henceforth in ordinary conversational contexts today. – FumbleFingers Aug 4 '15 at 16:19
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    With regard to the question "Where did the word 'henceforth' originate?" Merriam-Webster reports that it dates back to fourteenth-century English. In some types of formal English writing, henceforth is perfectly suitable, and is indeed interchangeable with "from this time forward" or (as MW defines the word) "from this point on." – Sven Yargs Aug 4 '15 at 19:31
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"From this time forward" isn't really used in colloquial English. Even henceforth is somewhat archaic. People frown upon it as American English but "going forward" is becoming popular. "From now on" would probably be the most common phrase used to mean henceforth.

Regarding the origin - hence in this context means 'from now' or 'from here' and forth means onward, i.e. from now onwards or from here onwards.

Here is the google n-gram showing usage in books over time: https://goo.gl/yu1nmR

  • -1. Hence does not primarily mean from now, and there is nothing nonstandard about "from this day forward," even if it may be a little uncommon among the subset of millennials who never read a book from the second millennium. – Brian Donovan Aug 4 '15 at 16:40
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    I think @niallhaslam means to say "standard colloquial English". – TRomano Aug 4 '15 at 17:14
  • @BrianDonovan - I did not mean to suggest that the primary meaning of hence was 'from now'. I've clarified that now. I added the n-gram showing usage of the phrase "from this time forward" in the second millennium, together with the other options. – niallhaslam Aug 4 '15 at 20:30

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