were definition, were meaning | English dictionary

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were

  
  (unstressed)  
      vb   the plural form of the past tense (indicative mood) of be and the singular form used with you. It is also used as a subjunctive, esp. in conditional sentences  
     (Old English werun, wæron past tense plural of wesan to be; related to Old Norse vera, Old Frisian weria, Old High German weron to last)  
Were, as a remnant of the past subjunctive in English, is used in formal contexts in clauses expressing hypotheses (if he were to die, she would inherit everything), suppositions contrary to fact (if I were you, I would be careful), and desire (I wish he were there now). In informal speech, however, was is often used instead  
English Collins Dictionary - English Definition & Thesaurus  
his eyes were out on stalks exp.
il avait les yeux qui sortaient des orbites ; il avait les yeux qui lui sortaient de la tête
[Fig.]

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