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which

[hwich, wich] /ʰwɪtʃ, wɪtʃ/
pronoun
1.
what one?:
Which of these do you want? Which do you want?
2.
whichever:
Choose which appeals to you.
3.
(used relatively in restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses to represent a specified antecedent):
The book, which I read last night, was exciting. The socialism which Owen preached was unpalatable to many. The lawyer represented five families, of which the Costello family was the largest.
4.
(used relatively in restrictive clauses having that as the antecedent):
Damaged goods constituted part of that which was sold at the auction.
5.
(used after a preposition to represent a specified antecedent):
the horse on which I rode.
6.
(used relatively to represent a specified or implied antecedent) the one that; a particular one that:
You may choose which you like.
7.
(used in parenthetic clauses) the thing or fact that:
He hung around for hours and, which was worse, kept me from doing my work.
8.
Nonstandard. who or whom:
a friend which helped me move; the lawyer which you hired.
adjective
9.
what one of (a certain number or group mentioned or implied)?:
Which book do you want?
10.
whichever; any that:
Go which way you please, you'll end up here.
11.
being previously mentioned:
It stormed all day, during which time the ship broke up.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English; Old English hwilc, hwelc, equivalent to hwe- (base of hwā who) + -līc body, shape, kind (see like1); cognate with Old Frisian hwelik, Dutch welk, German welch, Gothic hwileiks literally, of what form
Can be confused
that, which (see usage note at that)
Usage note
The relative pronoun which refers to inanimate things and to animals: The house, which we had seen only from a distance, impressed us even more as we approached. The horses which pulled the coach were bay geldings. Formerly, which referred to persons, but this use, while still heard (a man which I know), is nonstandard. Contrary to the teachings of some usage guides, which introduces both restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses. The “rule” that which can be used only with nonrestrictive clauses has no basis in fact. In edited prose three-fourths of the clauses in which which is the relative pronoun are restrictive: A novel which he later wrote quickly became a bestseller. See also that.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for which
  • The fish, which can weigh 80 pounds, can live 60 years or longer.
  • It is the first time the school has led the annual ranking, which is now in its sixth year.
  • Only you can decide which school is the right fit for your personality and goals.
  • The size of a crêpe is determined by the pan in which it cooks.
  • The enormous footprints for which it is named have been as large as long and wide.
  • Eiec, which amplifies the information and gives some of the words in various languages.
  • It is an idea which involves everyone having an equal chance to achieve their goals.
  • A party in which dictatorship from the top was replaced by consensus.
  • This is evident in his parables, which are a response to a question he is asked.
  • Cabinets which rest on the floor are supported by some sort of a base.
British Dictionary definitions for which

which

/wɪtʃ/
determiner
1.
  1. used with a noun in requesting that its referent be further specified, identified, or distinguished from the other members of a class: which house did you want to buy?
  2. (as pronoun): which did you find?
  3. (used in indirect questions): I wondered which apples were cheaper
2.
  1. whatever of a class; whichever: bring which car you want
  2. (as pronoun): choose which of the cars suit you
3.
used in relative clauses with inanimate antecedents: the house, which is old, is in poor repair
4.
as; and that: used in relative clauses with verb phrases or sentences as their antecedents: he died of cancer, which is what I predicted
5.
(archaic) the which, a longer form of which, often used as a sentence connector
Word Origin
Old English hwelc, hwilc; related to Old High German hwelīh (German welch), Old Norse hvelīkr, Gothic hvileiks, Latin quis, quid
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 which
pron.

Old English hwilc (West Saxon) "which," short for hwi-lic "of what form," from Proto-Germanic *khwilikaz (cf. Old Saxon hwilik, Old Norse hvelikr, Swedish vilken, Old Frisian hwelik, Middle Dutch wilk, Dutch welk, Old High German hwelich, German welch, Gothic hvileiks "which"), from *khwi- "who" (see who) + *likan "body, form" (cf. Old English lic "body;" see like (adj.)). In Middle English used as a relative pronoun where Modern English would use who, as still in the Lord's Prayer. Old English also had parallel forms hwelc and hwylc, which disappeared 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for which

which

Related Terms

says which


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with which
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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16
15
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