elsehow, elsewhen, elsewho

Somehow, anyhow, you just want to go somewhere – anywhere – as long as it’s elsewhere. But how? Not how you’re doing it now. Elsehow.

Wait. Is elsehow a word? Well, it’s not really in use here and now, but it may be elsewhere, and it certainly was elsewhen. Just a few centuries ago, we used it – or, I suppose, not we, exactly, but elsewho.

Hmm, though. We don’t say somewhen or somewho, or anywhen or anywho (well, OK, some people occasionally say anywho as a jokey version of anyhow). We say sometime, somebody, anytime, anybody. So we should say elsetime and elsebody, right? 

That would be tidy, but it would also be less precedented. Although elsewhen and elsewho were in some use before Shakespeare’s time, and persist in at least some dictionaries today, there’s no similar historical basis for elsetime or elsebody. So what do we do?

We could use them anyway, I guess. They suggest themselves readily and have been confected by people more recently (Elsetime is the title of a 2020 novel by Eve McDonnell, for instance, and Elsebody is the name of a 2021 album by Hazelord – I should say I have not yet read the one or listened to the other). 

But which would you rather use? Would you prefer “I don’t want to do this now with them; I want to do it elsewhen with elsewho,” or “I don’t want to do this now with them; I want to do it elsetime with elsebody”? 

Or would you prefer it elsehow?

One response to “elsehow, elsewhen, elsewho

  1. My son used to say “whobody” instead of “who” until he was in kindergarten, especially when emphatic. It makes me wonder how many great words have been constructed by kids but never had a chance to get widespread use.

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