who

[ 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.

Idioms for who

    as who should say, Archaic. in a manner of speaking; so to say.

Origin of who

before 900; Middle English; Old English hwā; cognate with Old High German hwer, Gothic hwas, Latin quis

usage note for who

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.

Definition for who (2 of 3)

Definition for who (3 of 3)

who's
[ hooz ]
/ huz /

contraction of who is: Who's there?
contraction of who has: Who's seen it?

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH who's

who's whose (see usage note at whose)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for who (1 of 3)

who
/ (huː) /

pronoun

which person? what person? used in direct and indirect questionshe can't remember who did it; who met you?
used to introduce relative clauses with antecedents referring to human beingsthe people who lived here have left
the one or ones who; whoeverbring who you want

Word Origin for who

Old English hwā; related to Old Saxon hwē, Old High German hwer, Gothic hvas, Lithuanian kàs, Danish hvo

undefined who

See whom

British Dictionary definitions for who (2 of 3)

WHO

abbreviation for

World Health Organization

British Dictionary definitions for who (3 of 3)

who's
/ (huːz) /

contraction of

who is
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