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[hweth -er, weth -] /ˈʰwɛð ər, ˈwɛð-/
(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
Can be confused
weather, whether, whither, wither (see synonym study at wither)
Usage note
See if. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for whether or no


(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
(subordinating) often foll by or not. used to introduce any indirect question he was not certain whether his friend was there or not
(coordinating) another word for either (sense 3) any man, whether liberal or conservative, would agree with me
(coordinating) (archaic) 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
whether or no
  1. used as a conjunction as a variant of whether (sense 1)
  2. under any circumstances he will be here tomorrow, whether or no
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, pronoun
(obsolete) which (of two): used in direct or indirect questions
Word Origin
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 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for whether or no
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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Idioms and Phrases with whether or no
In addition to the idiom beginning with whether also see: not know whether
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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