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[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.
as who should say, Archaic. in a manner of speaking; so to say.
before 900; Middle English; Old English hwā; cognate with Old High German hwer, Gothic hwas, Latin quis
Can be confused
who, whom (see usage note at the current entry)
Usage note
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 hypercorrect uses of whom: Whom are you? The person whom is in charge has left the office. See also than.


[hooz] /huz/
contraction of who is:
Who's there?
contraction of who has: Who's seen it?
Can be confused
who's, whose (see usage note at whose) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for who
  • Others outfit those who combat future or local troublemakers.
  • Another was composed of middle-aged and older patients who'd been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.
  • People who are at high risk for flu complications may also want to see a doctor if they get the flu.
  • Mason, however, was the co-coordinator who called the plays on game day.
  • Utilitarianism provides a plausible framework for deciding who should get trampled.
  • Most buy-out firms urgently need to return cash to investors in their funds, who are impatient to see returns.
  • Some anonymous blogs are said to be run by journalists who put their unprintable stories online.
  • Tell me a tale about a wicked stepmother who has.
  • Hear audio recordings of humpback whales and read interviews with the scientists who study them.
  • The way to get an unadvertised position is to know someone who is submitting a large grant, and help with the application.
British Dictionary definitions for who


which person? what person? used in direct and indirect questions: he can't remember who did it, who met you?
used to introduce relative clauses with antecedents referring to human beings: the people who lived here have left
the one or ones who; whoever: bring who you want
Word Origin
Old English hwā; related to Old Saxon hwē, Old High German hwer, Gothic hvas, Lithuanian kàs, Danish hvo


World Health Organization


who is
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 who

Old English hwa, from Proto-Germanic *khwas, *khwes, *khwo (cf. Old Saxon hwe, Danish hvo, Swedish vem, Old Frisian hwa, Dutch wie, Old High German hwer, German wer, Gothic hvo (fem.) "who"), from PIE *kwo- (cf. Sanskrit kah "who, which;" Avestan ko, Hittite kuish "who;" Latin quis/quid "in what respect, to what extent; how, why," qua "where, which way," qui/quae/quod "who, which;" Lithuanian kas "who;" Old Church Slavonic kuto, Russian kto "who;" Old Irish ce, Welsh pwy "who").

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

whiz kid


: Then the whiz-kid lawyers collided with a tougher adversary

noun phrase

A very clever young person; a youthful prodigy: the physics whiz kid (1930s+)

[fr whiz1 blended with quiz kid, ''very bright child or young person,'' used of participants in a 1930s radio quiz program]

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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Related Abbreviations for who


World Health Organization
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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