- what person or persons?: Who did it?
- (of a person) of what character, origin, position, importance, etc.: Who does she think she is?
- the person that or any person that (used relatively to represent a specified or implied antecedent): It was who you thought.
- (used relatively in restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses to represent a specified antecedent, the antecedent being a person or sometimes an animal or personified thing): Any kid who wants to can learn to swim.
- Archaic. the person or persons who.
- as who should say, Archaic. in a manner of speaking; so to say.
Origin of who
In most speech and writing, however, since who or whom often occurs at the beginning of the sentence or clause, there is a strong tendency to choose who no matter what its function. Even in edited prose, who occurs at least ten times as often as whom, regardless of grammatical function. Only when it directly follows a preposition is whom more likely to occur than who : Mr. Erickson is the man to whom you should address your request.
In natural informal speech, whom is quite rare. Who were you speaking to? is far more likely to occur than the “correct” To whom were you speaking? or Whom were you speaking to? However, the notion that whom is somehow more “correct” or elegant than who leads some speakers to make an inappropriate hypercorrection: Whom are you? The person whom is in charge has left the office. See also than.
- contraction of who is: Who's there?
- contraction of who has: Who's seen it?
- which person? what person? used in direct and indirect questionshe can't remember who did it; who met you?
- used to introduce relative clauses with antecedents referring to human beingsthe people who lived here have left
- the one or ones who; whoeverbring who you want
- World Health Organization
- who is
Word Origin and History for who
Old English hwa, from Proto-Germanic *khwas, *khwes, *khwo (cf. Old Saxon hwe, Danish hvo, Swedish vem, Old Frisian hwa, Dutch wie, Old High German hwer, German wer, Gothic hvo (fem.) "who"), from PIE *kwo- (cf. Sanskrit kah "who, which;" Avestan ko, Hittite kuish "who;" Latin quis/quid "in what respect, to what extent; how, why," qua "where, which way," qui/quae/quod "who, which;" Lithuanian kas "who;" Old Church Slavonic kuto, Russian kto "who;" Old Irish ce, Welsh pwy "who").