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[hooz] /huz/
(the possessive case of who used as an adjective):
Whose umbrella did I take? Whose is this one?
(the possessive case of which used as an adjective):
a word whose meaning escapes me; an animal whose fur changes color.
the one or ones belonging to what person or persons:
Whose painting won the third prize?
Origin of whose
early Middle English
before 900; Middle English whos, early Middle English hwās; replacing hwas, Old English hwæs, genitive of hwā who
Can be confused
who's, whose (see usage note at the current entry)
Usage note
Sometimes the phrase of which is used as the possessive of which: Chicago is a city of which the attractions are many or Chicago is a city the attractions of which are many. The use of this phrase can often seem awkward or pretentious, whereas whose sounds more idiomatic: Chicago is a city whose attractions are many.


[hoo] /hu/
pronoun;, possessive whose; objective whom.
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.
before 900; Middle English; Old English hwā; cognate with Old High German hwer, Gothic hwas, Latin quis
Usage note
The typical usage guide statement about the choice between who and whom says that the choice must be determined by the grammar of the clause within which this pronoun occurs. Who is the appropriate form for the subject of a sentence or clause: Who are you? The voters who elected him have not been disappointed. Whom is the objective form: Whom did you ask? To whom are we obliged for this assistance? This method of selecting the appropriate form is generally characteristic of formal writing and is usually followed in edited prose.
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for whose
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And there was big, handsome, Eddie Arledge, whose father had treated him shabbily.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • He was stopped by a policeman, who demanded, "whose bag is that, Johnny?"

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • Probably there was no boy present whose suit was of such fine material as his.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • So we think, whatever you think: and whose thoughts are to be preferred?

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • By this engine, whose springs I am continually oiling, I play them all off.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
British Dictionary definitions for whose


  1. of whom? belonging to whom? used in direct and indirect questions: I told him whose fault it was, whose car is this?
  2. (as pronoun): whose is that?
of whom; belonging to whom; of which; belonging to which: used as a relative pronoun: a house whose windows are broken
Word Origin
Old English hwæs, genitive of hwāwho and hwætwhat


World Health Organization


which person? what person? used in direct and indirect questions: he can't remember who did it, who met you?
used to introduce relative clauses with antecedents referring to human beings: the people who lived here have left
the one or ones who; whoever: bring who you want
Word Origin
Old English hwā; related to Old Saxon hwē, Old High German hwer, Gothic hvas, Lithuanian kàs, Danish hvo
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
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Word Origin and History for whose

genitive of who; from Old English hwæs, genitive of hwa (see 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").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for whose


Related Terms

says you

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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