whether
Pronunciation
  • enPR: wĕ'thə(r), IPA: /ˈwɛðə(ɹ)/
  • enPR: hwĕ'thə(r), IPA: /ˈʍɛðə(ɹ)/

Determiner
  1. (obsolete) Which of two.
    • 1590, Philip Sidney, The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia, Book III
      But to whether side fortune would have been partial could not be determined.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Book IV, Canto III:
      Whilst thus the case in doubtfull ballance hong,
      Vnsure to whether side it would incline,
    • 1633, George Herbert, The Temple, The Pearl:
      In vies of favours whether party gains...

Pronoun
  1. (obsolete) Which of two. [11th-19th c.]
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Matthew XXVII:
      The debite answered and sayde unto them: whether of the twayne will ye that I lett loosse unto you?
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, Matthew 21:31 ↗:
      Whether of them twain did the will of his father?
    • 1720, Daniel Defoe, Captain Singleton
      I told them we were in a country where we all knew there was a great deal of gold, and that all the world sent ships thither to get it; that we did not indeed know where it was, and so we might get a great deal, or a little, we did not know whether; ...
    • 1726 October 27, [Jonathan Swift], chapter I, in Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. […] [Gulliver’s Travels], volume I, London: Printed for Benj[amin] Motte, […], OCLC 995220039 ↗, part II (A Voyage to Brobdingnag):
      On the 17th, we came in full view of a great island, or continent (for we knew not whether;) on the south side whereof was a small neck of land jutting out into the sea, and a creek too shallow to hold a ship of above one hundred tons.

Conjunction
  1. (obsolete) Introducing a direct interrogative question (often with correlative or) which indicates doubt between alternatives.
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Mark II:
      whether ys it easyer to saye to the sicke of the palsey, thy synnes ar forgeven the: or to saye, aryse, take uppe thy beed and walke?
    • 1616, William Shakespeare, King John, I.i:
      Whether hadst thou rather be a Faulconbridge, [...] Or the reputed sonne of Cordelion?
  2. Used to introduce an indirect interrogative question that consists of multiple alternative possibilities (usually with correlative or).
    He chose the correct answer, but I don't know whether it was by luck or by skill.
    • 1915, G[eorge] A. Birmingham [pseudonym; James Owen Hannay], chapter I, in Gossamer, New York, N.Y.: George H. Doran Company, OCLC 5661828 ↗:
      As a political system democracy seems to me extraordinarily foolish, […]. My servant is, so far as I am concerned, welcome to as many votes as he can get. […] I do not suppose that it matters much in reality whether laws are made by dukes or cornerboys, but I like, as far as possible, to associate with gentlemen in private life.
  3. Without a correlative, used to introduce a simple indirect question.
    Do you know whether he's coming?
  4. Used to introduce a disjunctive adverbial clause which qualifies the main clause of the sentence (with correlative or).
    He's coming, whether you like it or not.
Translations Translations
  • German: ob
  • Italian: se
  • Portuguese: se
  • Russian: и́ли
  • Spanish: si
Translations Related terms


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