[ hoom ]
/ hum /


the objective case of who: Whom did you call? Of whom are you speaking? With whom did you stay?
the dative case of who: You gave whom the book?


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“Compliment” and “complement” had a shared meaning a long time ago, but today they are no longer interchangeable.

Origin of whom

before 900; Middle English; Old English hwām, dative of hwā who

usage note for whom

See who.


who whom (see usage note at who)

Definition for whom (2 of 2)

[ 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.

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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for whom (1 of 3)

/ (huːm) /


the objective form of who, used when who is not the subject of its own clausewhom did you say you had seen?; he can't remember whom he saw

Word Origin for whom

Old English hwām, dative of hwā who

usage for whom

It was formerly considered correct to use whom whenever the objective form of who was required. This is no longer thought to be necessary and the objective form who is now commonly used, even in formal writing: there were several people there who he had met before . Who cannot be used directly after a preposition – the preposition is usually displaced, as in the man (who) he sold his car to . In formal writing whom is preferred in sentences like these: the man to whom he sold his car . There are some types of sentence in which who cannot be used: the refugees, many of whom were old and ill, were allowed across the border

British Dictionary definitions for whom (2 of 3)


abbreviation for

World Health Organization

British Dictionary definitions for whom (3 of 3)

/ (huː) /


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
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