When to use whence instead of hence

I’ve come across instances where I felt using both was just fine. The dictionary definition doesn’t provide much clarity either. Could someone please clarify the differences between the two?


“Lift thine eyes to the mountains,

whence cometh help.

Thy help cometh from the Lord,

the maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1 KJV)

Whence is an old-fashioned word for where, or from where.

Hence, on the other hand, is best illustrated with a bit of algebra: X > Y; Z < Y; hence, X > Z. Hence means therefore.

“I’m sorry, but I simply ran out of time; hence, I couldn’t pick up your dry cleaning for you.”

“Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?”

Jonah’s shipmates wondered what he had done to bring the calamity of a great storm upon them. Since he was a stranger, they simply assumed it was his fault. Hence, they asked him, “Hey, from whence comest thou?” See Jonah 1:8 KJV.

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