Have you ever thought of it Susie, and yet I know you have, how much these hearts claim; why I dont believe in the whole, wide world, are such hard little creditors - such real little misers, as you and I carry with us, in our bosoms every day. I cant help thinking sometimes, when I hear about the ungenerous, Heart, keep very still - or someone will find you out!

I found this in Emily Dickinson's letter. Does "why" here mean the "reason" Emily doesn't believe the world?

  • 1
    If you're learning English, this material is not the place to start. Aug 23, 2021 at 17:09

2 Answers 2


In this context it is just an exclamation like "Well" or "hey". In this context it is not related to a reason.


Why is an interjection here and Cambridge records this use as

mainly US or old-fashioned: used to express surprise or anger:

  • Why, I've never seen anything like it!

If you wish to know more about it, this thread will give you all the answers.

  • Do you have any idea of the history of its use like this or any indication of the semantic drift that might have lead here?
    – Mitch
    Aug 23, 2021 at 17:29

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