- what one?: Which of these do you want? Which do you want?
- whichever; any one that: Choose which appeals to you.
- (used relatively in restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses to represent a specified antecedent): The book, which I read last night, was exciting. The socialism which Owen preached was unpalatable to many. The lawyer represented five families, of which the Costello family was the largest.
- (used relatively in restrictive clauses having that as the antecedent): Damaged goods constituted part of that which was sold at the auction.
- (used after a preposition to represent a specified antecedent): the horse on which I rode.
- (used relatively to represent a specified or implied antecedent) the one that; a particular one that: You may choose which you like.
- (used in parenthetic clauses) the thing or fact that: He hung around for hours and, which was worse, kept me from doing my work.
- Nonstandard. who or whom: a friend which helped me move; the lawyer which you hired.
- what one of (a certain number or group mentioned or implied)?: Which book do you want?
- whichever; any that: Go which way you please, you'll end up here.
- being previously mentioned: It stormed all day, during which time the ship broke up.
Origin of which
- used with a noun in requesting that its referent be further specified, identified, or distinguished from the other members of a classwhich house did you want to buy?
- (as pronoun)which did you find?
- (used in indirect questions)I wondered which apples were cheaper
- whatever of a class; whicheverbring which car you want
- (as pronoun)choose which of the cars suit you
- used in relative clauses with inanimate antecedentsthe house, which is old, is in poor repair
- as; and that: used in relative clauses with verb phrases or sentences as their antecedentshe died of cancer, which is what I predicted
- the which archaic a longer form of which, often used as a sentence connector
Word Origin and History for which
Old English hwilc (West Saxon) "which," short for hwi-lic "of what form," from Proto-Germanic *khwilikaz (cf. Old Saxon hwilik, Old Norse hvelikr, Swedish vilken, Old Frisian hwelik, Middle Dutch wilk, Dutch welk, Old High German hwelich, German welch, Gothic hvileiks "which"), from *khwi- "who" (see who) + *likan "body, form" (cf. Old English lic "body;" see like (adj.)). In Middle English used as a relative pronoun where Modern English would use who, as still in the Lord's Prayer. Old English also had parallel forms hwelc and hwylc, which disappeared 15c.