which

[hwich, wich]
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:
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

that, which (see usage note at that).


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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Collins
World English Dictionary
which (wɪtʃ)
 
determiner
1.  a.  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?
 b.  (as pronoun): which did you find?
 c.  (used in indirect questions): I wondered which apples were cheaper
2.  a.  whatever of a class; whichever: bring which car you want
 b.  (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
 

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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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

which
O.E. hwilc (W.Saxon) "which," short for hwi-lic "of what form," from P.Gmc. *khwilikaz (cf. O.S. hwilik, O.N. hvelikr, Swed. vilken, O.Fris. hwelik, M.Du. wilk, Du. welk, O.H.G. hwelich, Ger. welch, Goth. hvileiks "which"), from *khwi- "who" (see who) + *likan "body, form"
(cf. O.E. lic "body;" see like). In M.E. used as a relative pronoun where mod. Eng. would use who, as still in the Lord's Prayer. O.E. also had parallel forms hwelc and hwylc, which disappeared 15c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

which

In addition to the idioms beginning with which, also see every which way; know which side of bread is buttered; (which) way the wind blows.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
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.
The size of a crêpe is determined by the pan in which it cooks.
Only you can decide which school is the right fit for your personality and goals.
Synonyms
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