- 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 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.
In addition to the idioms beginning with which
- which is which
- which way the wind blows
- every which way
- know which side of bread is buttered
- (which) way the wind blows