who

[hoo]
See more synonyms for who on Thesaurus.com
pronoun; possessive whose; objective whom.
  1. what person or persons?: Who did it?
  2. (of a person) of what character, origin, position, importance, etc.: Who does she think she is?
  3. the person that or any person that (used relatively to represent a specified or implied antecedent): It was who you thought.
  4. (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.
  5. Archaic. the person or persons who.
Idioms
  1. 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

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.

WHO

who's

[hooz]
  1. contraction of who is: Who's there?
  2. contraction of who has: Who's seen it?
Can be confusedwho's whose (see usage note at whose)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for who

which, who

British Dictionary definitions for who

who

pronoun
  1. which person? what person? used in direct and indirect questionshe can't remember who did it; who met you?
  2. used to introduce relative clauses with antecedents referring to human beingsthe people who lived here have left
  3. 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

xref

See whom

WHO

abbreviation for
  1. World Health Organization

who's

contraction of
  1. 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

Word Origin and History for who
pron.

Old English hwa, from Proto-Germanic *khwas, *khwes, *khwo (cf. Old Saxon hwe, Danish hvo, Swedish vem, Old Frisian hwa, Dutch wie, Old High German hwer, German wer, Gothic hvo (fem.) "who"), from PIE *kwo- (cf. Sanskrit kah "who, which;" Avestan ko, Hittite kuish "who;" Latin quis/quid "in what respect, to what extent; how, why," qua "where, which way," qui/quae/quod "who, which;" Lithuanian kas "who;" Old Church Slavonic kuto, Russian kto "who;" Old Irish ce, Welsh pwy "who").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper