[ wich, hwich ]
See synonyms for which on Thesaurus.com
  1. what one?: Which of these do you want? Which do you want?

  2. whichever; any one that: Choose which appeals to you.

  1. (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.

  2. (used relatively in restrictive clauses having that as the antecedent): Damaged goods constituted part of that which was sold at the auction.

  3. (used after a preposition to represent a specified antecedent): the horse on which I rode.

  4. (used relatively to represent a specified or implied antecedent) the one that; a particular one that: You may choose which you like.

  5. (used in parenthetic clauses) the thing or fact that: He hung around for hours and, which was worse, kept me from doing my work.

  6. Nonstandard. who or whom: a friend which helped me move; the lawyer which you hired.

  1. what one of (a certain number or group mentioned or implied)?: Which book do you want?

  2. whichever; any that: Go which way you please, you'll end up here.

  1. being previously mentioned: It stormed all day, during which time the ship broke up.

Origin of which

First recorded before 900; Middle English; Old English hwilc, hwelc, equivalent to hwe-, base of hwā interrogative pronoun, + -līc “body, shape, kind”; cognate with Old Frisian hwelik, Dutch welk, German welch, Gothic hwileiks literally, “of what form”; see origin at who, like1

usage note For which

The relative pronoun which refers to inanimate things and to animals: The house, which we had seen only from a distance, impressed us even more as we approached. The horses which pulled the coach were bay geldings. Formerly, which referred to persons, but this use, while still heard ( a man which I know ), is nonstandard. Contrary to the teachings of some usage guides, which introduces both restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses. The “rule” that which can be used only with nonrestrictive clauses has no basis in fact. In edited prose three-fourths of the clauses in which which is the relative pronoun are restrictive: A novel which he later wrote quickly became a bestseller. See also that.

Words that may be confused with which

Words Nearby which

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use which in a sentence

  • So I've worked out a plan by-which you can examine the invention and test its profits without risking one penny.

  • His declaration means that he believes in "That-which-is-above-Things."

    Dynamic Thought | William Walker Atkinson
  • By the way, I wonder if I ought to tell him about the silver which-not.

    Berry And Co. | Dornford Yates
  • We just cant afford to have our goods floating around every-which-way right in the start.

  • We went into another field—behind us and before us, and every which-a-way we looked, we seen a rhinusorus.

    Bransford of Rainbow Range | Eugene Manlove Rhodes

British Dictionary definitions for which


/ (wɪtʃ) /

    • used with a noun in requesting that its referent be further specified, identified, or distinguished from the other members of a class: which 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; whichever: bring which car you want

    • (as pronoun): choose which of the cars suit you

  1. used in relative clauses with inanimate antecedents: the house, which is old, is in poor repair

  2. as; and that: used in relative clauses with verb phrases or sentences as their antecedents: he died of cancer, which is what I predicted

  3. the which archaic a longer form of which, often used as a sentence connector

Origin of which

Old English hwelc, hwilc; related to Old High German hwelīh (German welch), Old Norse hvelīkr, Gothic hvileiks, Latin quis, quid


See that

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with which


In addition to the idioms beginning with which

  • which is which
  • which way the wind blows

also see:

  • every which way
  • know which side of bread is buttered
  • (which) way the wind blows

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.