Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[hweth -er, weth -] /ˈʰwɛð ər, ˈwɛð-/
(used to introduce the first of two or more alternatives, and sometimes repeated before the second or later alternative, usually with the correlative or):
It matters little whether we go or stay. Whether we go or whether we stay, the result is the same.
(used to introduce a single alternative, the other being implied or understood, or some clause or element not involving alternatives):
See whether or not she has come. I doubt whether we can do any better.
Archaic. (used to introduce a question presenting alternatives, usually with the correlative or).
pronoun, Archaic.
which or whichever (of two)?
whether or no, under whatever circumstances; regardless:
He threatens to go whether or no.
Origin of whether
before 900; Middle English; Old English hwether, hwæther, equivalent to hwe- (base of hwā who) + -ther comparative suffix; cognate with Old Norse hvatharr, Gothic hwathar
Can be confused
weather, whether, whither, wither (see synonym study at wither)
Usage note
See if. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for whether
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • whether it had ever been painted, was a question not easily solved.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • I doubt me whether the poor old hound will brook the journey.

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • whether I will be permitted again to look upon your dear faces, I also am ignorant.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • The next question was, whether it was possible to follow them.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • The question which you have to consider is whether this war is just or unjust.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
British Dictionary definitions for whether


(subordinating) used to introduce an indirect question or a clause after a verb expressing or implying doubt or choice in order to indicate two or more alternatives, the second or last of which is introduced by or or or whether: he doesn't know whether she's in Britain or whether she's gone to France
(subordinating) often foll by or not. used to introduce any indirect question: he was not certain whether his friend was there or not
(coordinating) another word for either (sense 3) any man, whether liberal or conservative, would agree with me
(coordinating) (archaic) used to introduce a direct question consisting of two alternatives, the second of which is introduced by or or or whether: whether does he live at home or abroad
whether or no
  1. used as a conjunction as a variant of whether (sense 1)
  2. under any circumstances: he will be here tomorrow, whether or no
whether…or, whether…or whether, if on the one hand…or even if on the other hand: you'll eat that, whether you like it or not
determiner, pronoun
(obsolete) which (of two): used in direct or indirect questions
Word Origin
Old English hwæther, hwether; related to Old Frisian hweder, hoder, Old High German hwedar, Old Norse hvatharr, hvarr, Gothic hwathar
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for whether

Old English hwæðer, hweðer "which of two, whether," from Proto-Germanic *khwatharaz (cf. Old Saxon hwedar, Old Norse hvarr, Gothic huaþar, Old High German hwedar "which of the two," German weder "neither"), from interrogative base *khwa- "who" (see who) + comparative suffix *-theraz (cf. Sanskrit katarah, Avestan katara-, Greek poteros, Latin uter "which of the two, either of two," Lithuanian katras "which of the two," Old Church Slavonic koteru "which"). Its comparative form is either. Phrase whether or not (also whether or no) recorded from 1650s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with whether


In addition to the idiom beginning with whether also see: not know whether
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for whether

Word Value for whether

Scrabble Words With Friends