Definition of whole in US English:



  • 1attributive All of; entire.

    ‘he spent the whole day walking’
    ‘she wasn't telling the whole truth’
    • ‘I quickly joked that if he spent whole day walking around flapping his arms, he would not be fat either.’
    • ‘Networks are easy to set up, thanks to improved software that walks you through the whole process with wizards.’
    • ‘He had not told me the whole truth about what the relationship was.’
    • ‘I don't think the whole truth has come out and I don't think it ever will.’
    • ‘We walked and spent the whole evening last night nattering about him.’
    • ‘Height, weight, hair colour, the way they walk plus a whole host of other factors allow you to identify them.’
    • ‘It includes a whole host of guided walks that will help people understand and enjoy some wonderful local attractions.’
    • ‘After a while we began a gentle ascent of the Little Homer Saddle, the only climb in the whole walk.’
    • ‘Both of these might have elements of truth, but they can hardly be the whole truth.’
    • ‘Projecting growth over a whole century for the entire planet is just plain silly.’
    • ‘The whole process from walking through the door takes five and a half minutes, without even a hint of a rush.’
    • ‘I am afraid that a whole country, an entire people, will be destroyed for nothing.’
    • ‘You may walk the whole way to Monatore bridge and back, a distance of just over two miles, or else do a shorter walk.’
    • ‘Then he sized up the two Irish reporters, figured they could take it, and told the whole truth.’
    • ‘This means having a train station in Shawfair town centre within easy walking distance of the whole population.’
    • ‘In truth the whole evening was testimony to the benefits that can be accrued from Transition Year.’
    • ‘Surely that is their job, to be independent, fearless, and tell the whole truth.’
    • ‘The truth is that the whole system will be bankrupt if we pay for any medication for the elderly.’
    • ‘The hard questions are: what do we need, how much do we need, and are the ads telling the whole truth?’
    • ‘The whole idea that the entire country took to arms with pitchforks and scythes is also a fallacy.’
    entire, complete, full, total
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    1. 1.1 Used to emphasize a large extent or number.
      ‘whole shelves in libraries are devoted to the subject’
      ‘a whole lot of money’
      • ‘There were tears and shouting and generally a whole lot of upset.’
      • ‘I wrote an argument against that point of view but I'm not sure I convinced a whole lot of people.’
      • ‘What this actually amounts to is a whole lot of talk and very little action.’
      • ‘Alamara Margaret Khan says that college life teaches a person a whole lot of things’
      • ‘He added that the centre would now be able to undertake a whole lot of other activities with the new space outdoors.’
      • ‘As you know, he got himself into a whole lot of trouble with folks in New York City.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, I've heard a whole lot of people demand their fair share of fair treatment.’
      • ‘This generation depends on a whole lot of people who live outside the United States.’
      • ‘There are concerns about bench-marking and substitution and a whole lot of issues.’
      • ‘Within that tightly compressed time, you are expected to convey a whole lot of information.’
      • ‘But above all else, the emphasis is on maximum participation and a whole lot of fun!’
      • ‘An atheist will always be asking questions about a whole lot of issues, not only religion.’
      • ‘Instead, we just got a lecture about a whole lot of other issues that were not relevant.’
      • ‘He says he doesn't earn a whole lot of money himself and rarely works less than 60 hours a week.’
      • ‘My daughter lives in Winnipeg with her children, and I live in Ottawa, and there are a whole lot of us.’
      • ‘A whole lot of channels sprang up during these years, keen to milk the cash cow that TV became.’
      • ‘Even in one season at Rangers he packed in a whole lot of drama.’
      • ‘So we're bracing for a whole lot of damage in this area if the storm stays on track.’
      • ‘This way, the participants get to see a whole lot of India, which they would never have otherwise.’
      • ‘These spiritual concepts lead onto a whole lot of other spiritual concepts.’
  • 2In an unbroken or undamaged state; in one piece.

    ‘owls usually swallow their prey whole’
    • ‘When you've done the sums, the rainforest is actually worth more whole than in pieces.’
    • ‘A whole piece of chicken may frighten them away but a chicken wing keeps them content.’
    • ‘It includes whole scenes, footage, music and assorted bits and pieces left out of the original.’
    • ‘The bread contains nibbly, whole pieces of grain which have the reputation of damaging fillings.’
    • ‘Ethylene evolution was determined in whole leaves, and thereafter in wounded discs.’
    • ‘Don't have a whole chocolate bar, stick to a couple of pieces and an apple to fill you up.’
    • ‘The animals are then served whole in coconut milk and are consumed in their entirety.’
    • ‘Stir in the squash and lightly mash with the back of a fork, leaving some pieces whole.’
    • ‘Close attention is needed to piece together a whole, but it's worth it for the the range of writing.’
    intact, in one piece, sound, unbroken
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    1. 2.1attributive (of milk, blood, or other substances) with no part removed.
      • ‘Smooth eyelids and erase wrinkles by applying whole milk to the area and letting it remain there all day.’
      • ‘They would let whole milk stand for several hours until the lighter cream rose to the top.’
      • ‘She gulped it down, then took a sip of the new gallon of whole milk her dad bought for her yesterday.’
      • ‘A simple thick mixture of rosewater, whole milk and oatmeal is a natural facial cleanser.’
      • ‘A good natural fungicide can be made from whole milk, bicarb soda and canola oil.’
      • ‘After your child is two years old, it is safe to give him or her skim milk instead of whole milk.’
      • ‘Marshall identified whole milk as one of the main sources of saturated fat in the diet.’
      • ‘Save these dairy products for special occasions - they have even more fat than whole milk.’
      • ‘As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk.’
      • ‘Then we tried to wean Tessa onto whole milk, and she refused to sleep until we gave her back her formula.’
      • ‘About 45 percent of the calories in whole milk comes from saturated fat.’
      • ‘We defined high fat dairy food as whole milk, ice cream, hard cheese, butter, and sour cream.’
    2. 2.2predicative Healthy.
      ‘all people should be whole in body, mind, and spirit’
      • ‘Discover your true, whole, healthy self!’
      • ‘To be healthy is to be whole, and without unification of the mind, body and spirit, a person will fall ill.’
      • ‘You express and share feelings, also help others to feel healthy and whole around you.’


  • 1A thing that is complete in itself.

    ‘the subjects of the curriculum form a coherent whole’
    • ‘Zero and fractions were interesting to examine for different reasons: zero because it is an abstract notion meaning absence, and fractions because they are technical computations derived from wholes.’
    • ‘Other works combine sculptural and electronic, old-fashioned and New Age elements into synthetic wholes.’
    • ‘Holism is the theory that certain wholes must be regarded as greater than the sum of their parts.’
    • ‘Foer's interest in doubles, in halves that must become wholes, in intertwining the fictional and the ‘real,’ is more than just a gimmick.’
    • ‘Rarely can any director's reputation have been so much at variance between his peers - to whom Richardson was brilliant, passionate, mercurial - and his reviewers, for whom his films rarely cohered as unified wholes.’
    • ‘Entire organs such as the kidneys, heart, and brain are capable of continuing their functions, as quasi-independent wholes, when isolated from the organism and supplied with the proper nutrients.’
    • ‘For another, frequent guest contributions by Sinead O'Conner and Peter Gabriel made the albums seem less like complete wholes and more like fragmented compilations.’
    • ‘Memories might better be thought of as a collage or a jigsaw puzzle than as ‘tape recordings,’ ‘pictures’ or ‘video clips’ stored as wholes.’
    • ‘When one looks at Nature as a whole, there are multitudinous diversities contained within it, and many wholes that exist within it.’
    • ‘They do not lend themselves, as entities or wholes, to scientific hypothesis testing.’
    • ‘The exhibition, which travels later this year to the USA and Europe under the auspices of the Dutch embassy, is described by Verwey as comprising two halves that actually belong to different wholes.’
    • ‘In previous exhibitions, her canvases always struck me as beautifully painted but excessively whimsical, full of details that seemed more interesting than the wholes.’
    • ‘Similarly, multiculturalism teaches students to see all cultural outlooks as self-contained wholes.’
    • ‘Intuitively, some wholes have a natural division that takes precedence over others; a sentence, for example, is divided into words, syllables, and letters, in precisely that order.’
    • ‘All ritual systems, from the most ‘primitive’ to the most ‘advanced,’ are coherent wholes in which the human body stands for and symbolizes the social body.’
    • ‘Treating societies as wholes or as entities runs the risk of losing sight of these differences and the dynamic they generate in behavioral change.’
    • ‘While there is nothing wrong with this in theory, it flies in the face of Brubaker's otherwise convincingly argued claim that the miniatures were often conceived as complex visual wholes.’
    • ‘One is to say that when we are thinking of our lives as wholes, we should think in terms of flourishing or welfare or well-being rather than happiness.’
    • ‘It describes wholes in terms of parts, the higher in terms of the lower, and matter and mechanism as somehow more ‘real’ than the mind that investigates them.’
    • ‘But only a few of the tracks cohere into solid wholes; the rest leave the impression that they're on the threshold of greatness, but still skewed a few degrees in the wrong direction.’
    entity, unit, body, piece, discrete item, ensemble, combination, package, conglomeration, object
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  • 2the wholeAll of something.

    ‘the effects will last for the whole of his life’
    • ‘The head teacher says that their entire budget for the whole of last year amounted to $16.’
    • ‘The whole previous tradition of dance has been to emphasize dance as the joy of moving to the music itself.’
    • ‘Finally, the assertion that everything happens by necessity seems to leave the whole of morality in doubt.’
    • ‘You'll see more brawls on a British high street in one night than you will in the whole of Italy in an entire year.’
    • ‘Only seventy odd years ago the whole of humanity thought that the entire universe verse was just our own Milky Way.’
    • ‘Often the whole high street becomes gridlocked, meanwhile half the street is blocked by cars parked illegally.’
    all, every part, everything, the lot, the sum, the sum total, the aggregate
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  • as submodifier Used to emphasize the novelty or distinctness of something.

    ‘the man who's given a whole new meaning to the term “cowboy.”’
    • ‘But now we can talk to sponsors about a whole new set-up, with nine games in Scotland in this league alone.’
    • ‘‘It only takes one small piece to start a whole new infestation somewhere else,’ he said.’
    • ‘The designers have to wake up and realize that the clothes they create can influence a whole new generation.’
    • ‘You need a whole other level of proficiency, to be able to film close to real time and to be consistent.’
    • ‘A hand shake is exciting by it's closeness and novelty, but hongi or a hug is a whole different level.’
    • ‘This gave rise to a whole new style of English glassware quite distinct from intricate Venetian fashions.’
    • ‘This sounds a whole lot more possible, a little like a vastly more sophisticated version of Sim City, with us as the Sims.’
    • ‘She also lent me a couple of Ben Elton books which were good, but not as good for relaxing as they have a whole dark seedy side.’
    • ‘And 17 years on, Soft Cell are back, with an album to influence a whole new generation.’
    • ‘Don't get me wrong, they still play the same two songs over and over, they just sound a whole lot better.’
    • ‘I just got off the phone with him, and I think he senses that this is a whole new ballgame now.’


  • as a whole

    • As a single unit and not as separate parts; in general.

      ‘a healthy economy is in the best interests of society as a whole’
      • ‘A buyer's dislike of such things can easily cloud his impression of the house as a whole.’
      • ‘There is no automatic reason why share prices as a whole should plummet as a result of the attacks.’
      • ‘It is less clear that a vote on the report as a whole would be a no confidence motion.’
      • ‘Many campaigners feared the loss of the venue would have an impact on youth theatre as a whole.’
      • ‘This is an understanding of right and wrong and respect for oneself and society as a whole.’
      • ‘A quiet Sun in early September seems an ideal moment to assess the holidays as a whole.’
      • ‘It examines the impact on society as a whole, as well as families and individuals.’
      • ‘It is not a perception which reflects well on Scotland as a whole and Glasgow in particular.’
      • ‘Not only is it enjoyable for the fans to see the team doing well but it has an important effect on the club as a whole.’
      • ‘The booming top sector is pushing up the value of Scotland's private homes as a whole.’
      together, all together, as a group, in a body, as one, as a whole, in a mass, wholesale
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  • in whole

    • Entirely or fully.

      ‘a number of stone churches survive in whole or in part’
      • ‘Almost every building had been destroyed in whole or in part: and what had not been destroyed had been looted.’
      • ‘Have you thought to check if your building, in whole or part, is absolutely legal?’
      • ‘And on the following page is a copy of the schedule which shows that the Trustees Act 1900 was repealed in whole.’
      • ‘That call has been picked up, in part, if not in whole, by some politicians, seeking to capitalize on that anger.’
      • ‘When England hosted the 1966 World Cup, six of the eight venues used were grounds designed in part or in whole by Archibald Leitch.’
      • ‘We recognise the affection that some people in the district have for the building and we want to know if it can be retained - in whole or part - and at what cost.’
      • ‘Owned first in part by Sweden, then in whole by Russia, they always maintained their distinct identity.’
      • ‘In fact, I expect the ban will be lifted in whole or in part later today.’
      • ‘Some of the most successful films are based on, in part or in whole, military conflicts that actually happened.’
      • ‘There aren't too many serious musicians who don't know David Grisman's work, in part or in whole.’
  • in the whole (wide) world

    • Anywhere; of all.

      ‘he was the nicest person in the whole world’
      • ‘He would probably be the nicest liberal preacher that you ever met in the whole world.’
      • ‘Today I'm going to tell you about my favorite dish in the whole world.’
      • ‘Now Dublin boasts the tallest such structure not just in Ireland but in the whole world.’
      • ‘Opposite Wimbledon Park lies the most famous tennis club in all England, probably in the whole world.’
      • ‘Insomnia has to be the most frustrating thing in the whole world.’
      • ‘I am sure there are no better hospitals or clinics in the whole world.’
      • ‘It's her favorite thing in the whole world, and I just can't deny her anything.’
      • ‘I think it must be the only Mercury Lynx station wagon left running in the whole world.’
      • ‘My superman is my dad - he's the coolest, most patient, most rational man in the whole world.’
      • ‘We have cheapened and devalued that which is the most valuable possession in the whole world - the human person.’
  • on the whole

    • Taking everything into account; in general.

      • ‘Copper examples are on the whole more common than brass, though values are very similar.’
      • ‘On the whole it does not seem that New Zealanders are coping so well with the challenges of globalisation.’
      • ‘The way things go in the first hour or so of the day is usually indicative of what the day will be like on the whole.’
      • ‘On the whole I tend to disapprove of politicians, especially those in opposition, having policies.’
      • ‘On the whole the figures portrayed in this exhibition have a paradoxical ability to make the impossible believable.’
      • ‘It is much easier to follow, on the whole, if you have a guide to help you.’
      • ‘That's why I think former players are actually the best agents to deal with, on the whole.’
      • ‘Yet on the whole, it manages to blend seamlessly with the green and tranquil banks of the river.’
      • ‘Perhaps part of my indifference is that on the whole, the cast was full of unconvincing actors.’
      • ‘The view of Hobbes put forward in these histories was, on the whole, a balanced and careful one.’
      overall, all in all, all things considered, altogether, taking everything into account, taking everything into consideration, on balance, on average, for the most part, mostly, mainly, in the main, chiefly, principally, predominantly, largely, in general, generally, generally speaking, as a rule, as a general rule, in the general run of things, by and large, to a large extent, to a great degree, basically, substantially, effectively, virtually, to all intents and purposes
      View synonyms
  • the whole nine yards

    • informal Everything possible or available.

      ‘send in the troops, aircraft, nuclear submarine experts, the whole nine yards’
      • ‘I mean, if you're gonna be honest, why not go the whole nine yards?’
      • ‘So I'm thinking of proposing to my girlfriend at the big game, complete with a scoreboard message, the ‘fan cam,’ the whole nine yards.’
      • ‘She nodded, with a nervous laugh, ‘Marriage, house, kids, the whole nine yards.’’
      • ‘The Oratorians have maintained Gregorian chant, polyphony, Latin, the whole nine yards, and it is usually packed for a Sunday high mass.’
      • ‘I look at their social skills, their vision, their creativity, their business acumen, the whole nine yards.’
      • ‘We actually fall in love and everything, the whole nine yards.’
      • ‘You could even go the whole nine yards and come up with a song title for the new band, but it's not necessary.’
      • ‘For buyers who don't want to go the whole nine yards and get the finished bonus room, his firm also offers a $500 pull down stair to a completely unfinished area.’
      • ‘On a much happier note, Liza's show at Royal Albert Hall was a smashing success: standing ovations, screaming fans, the whole nine yards.’
      • ‘I travelled first class (but I didn't pay for first class - thanks to an kindly train official) - meal, wine - the whole nine yards.’


Old English hāl, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch heel and German heil, also to hail. The spelling with wh- (reflecting a dialect pronunciation with w-) first appeared in the 15th century.