which

I. adjective Etymology: Middle English, of what kind, which, from Old English hwilc; akin to Old High German wilīh of what kind, which, Old English hwā who, gelīk like — more at who, like Date: before 12th century 1. being what one or ones out of a group — used as an interrogative <
which tie should I wear
>
<
kept a record of which employees took their vacations in July
>
2. whichever <
it will not fit, turn it which way you like
>
3. — used as a function word to introduce a nonrestrictive relative clause and to modify a noun in that clause and to refer together with that noun to a word or word group in a preceding clause or to an entire preceding clause or sentence or longer unit of discourse <
in German, which language might…have been the medium of transmission — Thomas Pyles
>
<
that this city is a rebellious city… : for which cause was this city destroyed — Ezra 4:15 (Authorized Version)
>
II. pronoun Date: before 12th century 1. what one or ones out of a group — used as an interrogative <
which of those houses do you live in
>
<
which of you want tea and which want lemonade
>
<
he is swimming or canoeing, I don't know which
>
2. whichever <
take which you like
>
3. — used as a function word to introduce a relative clause; used in any grammatical relation except that of a possessive; used especially in reference to animals, inanimate objects, groups, or ideas <
the bonds which represent the debt — G. B. Robinson
>
<
the Samnite tribes, which settled south and southeast of Rome — Ernst Pulgram
>
— used freely in reference to persons as recently as the 17th century <
our Father which art in heaven — Matthew 6:9(Authorized Version)
>
, and still occasionally so used but usually with some implication of emphasis on the function or role of the person rather than on the person as such <
chiefly they wanted husbands, which they got easily — Lynn White
>
— used by speakers on all educational levels and by many reputable writers, though disapproved by some grammarians, in reference to an idea expressed by a word or group of words that is not necessarily a noun or noun phrase <
he resigned that post, after which he engaged in ranching — Current Biography
>
Usage: see that IV

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Which — Which, pron. [OE. which, whilk, AS. hwilc, hwylc, hwelc, from the root of hw[=a] who + l[=i]c body; hence properly, of what sort or kind; akin to OS. hwilik which, OFries. hwelik, D. welk, G. welch, OHG. wel[=i]h, hwel[=i]h, Icel. hv[=i]l[=i]kr,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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