[ 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 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

British Dictionary definitions for whether


/ (ˈwɛðə) /


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.