[hweth-er, weth-]


(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 confusedweather whether whither wither (see synonym study at wither)

Usage note

See if.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for whether

Contemporary Examples of whether

Historical Examples of whether

  • 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.


    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 whetherhe 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 questionhe was not certain whether his friend was there or not
(coordinating) another word for either (def. 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 whetherwhether does he live at home or abroad
whether or no
  1. used as a conjunction as a variant of whether (def. 1)
  2. under any circumstanceshe will be here tomorrow, whether or no
whether…or or whether…or whether if on the one hand…or even if on the other handyou'll eat that, whether you like it or not

determiner, pronoun

obsolete which (of two): used in direct or indirect questions

Word Origin for whether

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

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

Idioms and Phrases with whether


In addition to the idiom beginning with whether

  • whether or not

also see:

  • not know whether
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.