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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Who \Who\, pron. [Possess. whose; object. Whom.] [OE. who, wha, AS. hw[=a], interrogative pron., neut. hw[ae]t; akin to OFries. hwa, neut. hwet, OS. hw[=e], neut. hwat, D. wie, neut. wat, G. wer, neut. was, OHG. wer, hwer, neut. waz, hwaz, Icel. hvat, neut., Dan. hvo, neut. hvad, Sw. ho, hvem, neut. hvad, Goth. hwas, fem. hw[=o], neut. hwa, Lith. kas, Ir. & Gael. co, W. pwy, L. quod, neuter of qui, Gr. po`teros whether, Skr. kas. [root]182. Cf. How, Quantity, Quorum, Quote, Ubiquity, What, When, Where, Whether, Which, Whither, Whom, Why.]

  1. Originally, an interrogative pronoun, later, a relative pronoun also; -- used always substantively, and either as singular or plural. See the Note under What, pron., 1. As interrogative pronouns, who and whom ask the question: What or which person or persons? Who and whom, as relative pronouns (in the sense of that), are properly used of persons (corresponding to which, as applied to things), but are sometimes, less properly and now rarely, used of animals, plants, etc. Who and whom, as compound relatives, are also used especially of persons, meaning the person that; the persons that; the one that; whosoever. ``Let who will be President.''

    [He] should not tell whose children they were.

    There thou tell'st of kings, and who aspire; Who fall, who rise, who triumph, who do moan.

    Adders who with cloven tongues Do hiss into madness.

    Whom I could pity thus forlorn.

    How hard is our fate, who serve in the state.

    Who cheapens life, abates the fear of death.

    The brace of large greyhounds, who were the companions of his sports.
    --Sir W. Scott.

  2. One; any; one. [Obs., except in the archaic phrase, as who should say.]

    As who should say, it were a very dangerous matter if a man in any point should be found wiser than his forefathers were.
    --Robynson (More's Utopia).

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

genitive of who; from Old English hwæs, genitive of hwa (see who).


pron. 1 Of whom, belonging to whom; (non-gloss definition: used as an interrogative pronoun). 2 Of whom, belonging to whom; (non-gloss definition: used as a relative pronoun).

Usage examples of "whose".

The accomplished citizens of the Greek and Roman republics, whose characters could adapt themselves to the bar, the senate, the camp, or the schools, had learned to write, to speak, and to act with the same spirit, and with equal abilities.

It has already been observed, that Eutropius, one of the principal eunuchs of the palace of Constantinople, succeeded the haughty minister whose ruin he had accomplished, and whose vices he soon imitated.

Fleete, accompanying them, as it is said, with such vvonderfull trauell of bodie, as doubtlesse had he bene the meanest person, as he vvas the chiefest, he had yet deserued the first place of honour: and no lesse happie do we accompt him, for being associated with Maister Carleill his Lieutenant generall, by whose experiences, prudent counsell, and gallant performance, he atchiued so many and happie enterprises of the warre, by vvhom also he was verie greatly assisted, in setting downe the needefull orders, lawes, and course of iustice, and for the due administration of the same vpon all occasions.

Most of the masses, whose projectors were fed by comparatively few accumulator cells, darted away entire with a stupendous acceleration.

He was also an accurate weather-vane on the quality of my work, whose judgement I quickly learned to trust and respect.

Danforth and I saw the freshly glistening and reflectively iridescent black slime which clung thickly to those headless bodies and stank obscenely with that new, unknown odor whose cause only a diseased fancy could envisage--clung to those bodies and sparkled less voluminously on a smooth part of the accursedly resculptured wall in a series of grouped dots--we understood the quality of cosmic fear to its uttermost depths.

A little over a week later, they reached a much bigger canyon, a wide, rugged gorge through whose bottom ran a quiet river, where pine trees and actus coexisted along the sandy banks and birds twittered in hidden crevices among the rocks.

Chairman read from the statement yesterday that the charge against these men was disloyalty, and that they had affiliated themselves with a party whose platform and program call for an overthrow of this Government by violence, he added that we will prove this beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Americans, regardless of party affiliation or ideology, especially since the Supreme Courtprior to this casewas among the last institutions whose integrity remained above reproach.

When acting in that capacity, they have taken an oath to be politically blind to the identity, party affiliation, and ideology of the litigant-candidates whose case is before them.

The simple truth evoked was, that while a committee of the house supposed that they were possessed of full and complete reports, they were supplied with only curt and crude extracts, calculated to place matters in the ministerial light, but not really affording the committee the opinions of those whose views they purported to be.

Daughter of Jove, relentless power, Thou tamer of the human breast, Whose iron scourge and torturing hour The bad affright, afflict the best!

And they shrunk with affright from his ugly sight, Whose work they delighted to do.

Camilla learnt, at length, this painful end of her embassy, she gave herself up so completely to despair, that Lavinia, affrighted, ran to the house for Eugenia, whose extreme youth was no impediment, in the minds of her liberal sisters, to their belief nor reverence of her superior wisdom.

These degenerate Romans continued to serve the empire, whose allegiance they had renounced, by introducing among their conquerors the first notions of agriculture, the useful arts, and the conveniences of civilized life.