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pronoun wheth·er \ˈhwe-thər, ˈwe-, (ˌ)(h)wə-\

Definition of whether

  1. 1 archaic :  which one of the two

  2. 2 archaic :  whichever one of the two

Examples of whether in a sentence

  1. … we did not indeed know where it was, and so we might get a great deal, or a little, we did not know whether; … —Daniel Defoe, The Adventures of Captain Singleton, 1720

Origin and Etymology of whether

Middle English, from Old English hwæther, hwether; akin to Old High German hwedar which of two, Latin uter, Greek poteros, Old English hwā who — more at who

First Known Use: before 12th century



conjunction wheth·er \ˈhwe-thər, ˈwe-, (ˌ)(h)wə-\

Simple Definition of whether

  • : if it is or was true that

  • : if it is or was better

  • —used to indicate choices or possibilities

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of whether

  1. —used as a function word usually with correlative or or with or whether to indicate (1) until the early 19th century a direct question involving alternatives; (2) an indirect question involving stated or implied alternatives <decide whether he should agree or raise objections> <wondered whether to stay>; (3) alternative conditions or possibilities <see me no more, whether he be dead or no — Shakespeare> <seated him next to her whether by accident or design>

whether or no


whether or not

  1. :  in any case <they've only been married a very few weeks, whether or no — Thomas Hardy>

Examples of whether in a sentence

  1. That supposes I would have the wisdom to decide what is in fact right and what is wrong, and the humility to consider whether any action I could take would make things better or worse. —P. D. James, The Private Patient, 2008

  2. In his later years, Turing turned to the question of whether machines could be made to think the central question of artificial intelligence. —Chuck Leddy, Boston Globe, 15 Jan. 2006

  3. If you tell me that something is a pleasure, I do not know whether it is more like revenge, or buttered toast, or success, or adoration, or relief from danger, or a good scratch. —C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism, 1961

  4. I don't know whether they were invited.

  5. She was uncertain whether to go or stay.

Origin and Etymology of whether

(see 1whether)

First Known Use: before 12th century

WHETHER Defined for Kids


conjunction wheth·er \ˈhwe-thər, ˈwe-\

Definition of whether for Students

  1. 1 :  if it is or was true that <See whether they've left.>

  2. 2 :  if it is or was better <I wondered whether to stay or go home.>

  3. 3 —used to introduce two or more situations of which only one can occur <The game will be played whether it rains or shines.>

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a dwelling place or home

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