[hweth-er, weth-]
(used to introduce the first of two or more alternatives, and sometimes repeated before the second or later alternative, usually with the correlative or ): It matters little whether we go or stay. Whether we go or whether we stay, the result is the same.
(used to introduce a single alternative, the other being implied or understood, or some clause or element not involving alternatives): See whether or not she has come. I doubt whether we can do any better.
Archaic. (used to introduce a question presenting alternatives, usually with the correlative or ).
pronoun Archaic.
which or whichever (of two)?
whether or no, under whatever circumstances; regardless: He threatens to go whether or no.

before 900; Middle English; Old English hwether, hwæther, equivalent to hwe- (base of hwā who) + -ther comparative suffix; cognate with Old Norse hvatharr, Gothic hwathar

weather, whether, whither, wither (see synonym study at wither).

See if.
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World English Dictionary
whether (ˈwɛðə)
conj (often foll by or not)
1.  (subordinating) used to introduce an indirect question or a clause after a verb expressing or implying doubt or choice in order to indicate two or more alternatives, the second or last of which is introduced by or or or whether: he doesn't know whether she's in Britain or whether she's gone to France
2.  used to introduce any indirect question: he was not certain whether his friend was there or not
3.  (coordinating) another word for either : any man, whether liberal or conservative, would agree with me
4.  archaic (coordinating) used to introduce a direct question consisting of two alternatives, the second of which is introduced by or or or whether: whether does he live at home or abroad
5.  whether or no
 a.  used as a conjunction as a variant of whether
 b.  under any circumstances: he will be here tomorrow, whether or no
6.  whether…or, whether…or whether if on the one hand…or even if on the other hand: you'll eat that, whether you like it or not
determiner, —pron
7.  obsolete which (of two): used in direct or indirect questions
[Old English hwæther, hwether; related to Old Frisian hweder, hoder, Old High German hwedar, Old Norse hvatharr, hvarr, Gothic hwathar]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. hwæðer, hweðer "which of two, whether," from P.Gmc. *khwatharaz (cf. O.S. hwedar, O.N. hvarr, Goth. huaþar, O.H.G. hwedar "which of the two," Ger. weder "neither"), from interrogative base *khwa- "who" (see who) + comparative suffix *-theraz (cf. Skt.
katarah, Avestan katara-, Gk. poteros, L. uter "which of the two, either of two," Lith. katras "which of the two," O.C.S. koteru "which"). Its comparative form is either.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with whether, also see not know whether.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Ask students whether they think joining together with other countries might
  have an effect on a country's culture.
Evolutionary theorists question whether there's an adaptive purpose to dreaming.
Time to find out whether you got tenure.
All that matters is whether it's a good piece of writing or not.
Idioms & Phrases
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