[Note: This sense was previously how conj.]

how adv

[. . .]

3 Used with gradable advs (esp soon) and occas adjs to introduce clauses after hope and (earlier) wish having the form of an indirect question. Note: In earlier use the clause usu has a modal verb, most often may; in later use the simple present also occurs. [Appar of Scots origin; the construction appears in 18th and early 19th century Scots and nIr sources, chiefly in the comb “wish how soon,” and is perh related to the (obsolete) Scots how soon “as soon as.”] chiefly S Midl

1777 in 1900 Clinton Pub. Papers 2.93 seNY, If the Cannon are arrived from Fort Lee I Wish how soon they coud [sic] be forwarded here as we have every Thing ready to stock & make Carriages for them. 1795 in 1959 Blount Papers 2.562 NC, I wish how soon the receit from the Tresuror for the purches [purchase] money might Come forward. 1812 in 1910 MI Pioneer & Hist. Soc. Hist. Coll. 37.474, We know enough of him & wish how soon he may depart. 1829 in 1928 Amer. Hist. Assoc. Annual Rept. for 1922 2.257, I am happy to see the establishing of printing offices mongst us and seriously hope how soon they may inform both the people of this and adjoining countries [in TX] so that many existing evils may be eradicated. [DARE Ed: Letter of Thomas F. McKinney, born 1801 in KY.] 1847 in 1913 Hadden Hist. Uniontown PA 555 swPA, I know this to be the next fight intended now by government. . . I hope how soon it may be, as I think it will be the last wag of the war hammer. 1864 in 1866 Brownlow’s Knoxville Whig (TN) 19 Sept 1/2, I hope how well he may acquit himself as Vice President. He can do no harm there so long as Mr. Lincoln has the helm. 1877 Weekly KS Chief (Troy) [19 July 3]/7, We hope how happy they may live, and how happy they may die. 1885 Knoxville Daily Chronicle (TN) 15 June 2/2, We only wish how well all men may do in their business affairs. 1901 Ledger (Gaffney City SC) [12 July 3]/2, We are glad to hear a good report from Rev. Mr. Wray’s meeting at Gaffney and hope how much good it will do and long the results may last. 1910 Indiana Weekly Messenger (PA) [26 Jan 13]/1, [He] assured us he had been a reader of the Messenger for 40 years and he proposed continuing as long as life lasts. We hope how many good years may follow. 1922 Harrison Sun (NE) 24 Nov 1/6, [Letter:] It does me good to read about these old time friends and neighbors in the Sun and I will always hope how many and how often I may meet them in California. 1931 Hannum Thursday April 16 wNC, I hope how soon hit comes. 1936 AmSp 11.63 WV, I hope how soon I’ll see you (I hope I’ll see you soon). 1941 Miller Co. Autogram (Tuscumbia MO) 29 May 6/6, Had quite a few new members in our Sunday school. Hope how many more attend and also visitors. 1946 AmSp 21.271 neKY, Hope how soon (it happens). . . Hope it may happen soon. Common. 1952 Brown NC Folkl. 1.553, How soon. . . Soon, quickly. “I hope how soon your mother will come back.” 1959 Post (Big Stone Gap VA) 28 May 6/4, People who have strawberry patches are busy picking now. We hope how many and how good they are. 1961 Mountain Echo (Yellville AR) 30 Mar 4/5, At last report Grannie Birrier was much better. We hope how soon she is able to be up and about. 1964 Ft. Myers News–Press (FL) 6 Dec sec B 12/4, Larry . . will not be a permanent resident here until his retirement—we hope how soon. 1983 Asheville Citizen (NC) 13 May 4/3, [Letter:] I . . hope how soon the voters wise up to his petty partisanship and remove him from office. 2003 Knoxville News–Sentinel (TN) 31 Mar sec B 7/1, I didn’t know she would leave us so soon and my heart aches and breaks, hoping how soon we’ll be together, where we won’t hurt anymore.

Etymological Supplement:

1745 in 1840 Burton–Laing Jacobite Correspondence of the Atholl Family 110, I must mention to your Grace, that the bad state of health of some, and the pressing business of others, make them wish how soon your Grace’s good intentions towards them might be put in execution.


1775 in 1984 Robinson A Scottish Firm in Virginia 208, At the same time I wish how soon I could hear of one or two [ships] being sent out as , in event of the Ocean not returning in time , they would answer in her stead.

1799 in 1998 Agnew Drennan–McTier Letters 2.536, I wish how soon, and how long, she may experience plain unsophisticated affection.

1830 Charles Lockhart Poems, on Various Subjects (2nd ed) 125, I wish how soon they wad begin, / And settle matters fairly; / It wad be good for mony a ane, / As weel’s your servant—Charlie.