Definition of whole in English:

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Pronunciation: /həʊl/


1 [attributive] All of; entire: he spent the whole day walking she wasn’t telling the whole truth
More example sentences
  • I am afraid that a whole country, an entire people, will be destroyed for nothing.
  • Projecting growth over a whole century for the entire planet is just plain silly.
  • The whole idea that the entire country took to arms with pitchforks and scythes is also a fallacy.
entire, complete, full, total;
unabridged, full-length, uncut, uncondensed, unexpurgated, unreduced, undivided
1.1Used to emphasize a large extent or number: disputes on a whole range of issues
More example sentences
  • There are concerns about bench-marking and substitution and a whole lot of issues.
  • Instead, we just got a lecture about a whole lot of other issues that were not relevant.
  • An atheist will always be asking questions about a whole lot of issues, not only religion.
2In an unbroken or undamaged state; in one piece: owls usually swallow their prey whole
More example sentences
  • The bread contains nibbly, whole pieces of grain which have the reputation of damaging fillings.
  • 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.
intact, in one piece, sound, unbroken;
unimpaired, undamaged, unharmed, unhurt, untouched, uninjured, unscathed, unmutilated, inviolate, flawless, faultless, unmarked, unspoilt, perfect, mint, pristine
2.1 [attributive] With no part removed: puddings made with whole milk
More example sentences
  • Save these dairy products for special occasions - they have even more fat than whole milk.
  • A good natural fungicide can be made from whole milk, bicarb soda and canola oil.
  • As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk.
2.2 [predicative] Healthy: people should be whole in body, mind, and spirit
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Discover your true, whole, healthy self!


1A thing that is complete in itself: the subjects of the curriculum form a coherent whole
More example sentences
  • Similarly, multiculturalism teaches students to see all cultural outlooks as self-contained wholes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
entity, unit, body, piece, discrete item, ensemble, combination, package, conglomeration, object;
totality, entirety, unity
2 (the whole) All of something: the effects will last for the whole of his life
More example sentences
  • The head teacher says that their entire budget for the whole of last year amounted to $16.
  • Only seventy odd years ago the whole of humanity thought that the entire universe verse was just our own Milky Way.
  • Finally, the assertion that everything happens by necessity seems to leave the whole of morality in doubt.
all, every part, everything, the lot, the sum, the sum total, the aggregate


[as submodifier] informal
Used to emphasize the novelty or distinctness of something: the man who’s given a whole new meaning to the term ‘cowboy’
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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
More example sentences
  • It examines the impact on society as a whole, as well as families and individuals.
  • This is an understanding of right and wrong and respect for oneself and society as a whole.
  • It is not a perception which reflects well on Scotland as a whole and Glasgow in particular.

in whole

Entirely or fully: a number of stone churches survive in whole or in part
More example sentences
  • That call has been picked up, in part, if not in whole, by some politicians, seeking to capitalize on that anger.
  • 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 the whole (wide) world

Anywhere; of all: he was the nicest person in the whole world
More example sentences
  • We have cheapened and devalued that which is the most valuable possession in the whole world - the human person.
  • Insomnia has to be the most frustrating thing in the whole world.
  • Today I'm going to tell you about my favorite dish in the whole world.

on the whole

Taking everything into account; in general: on the whole, it was quite a good speech
More example sentences
  • Copper examples are on the whole more common than brass, though values are very similar.
  • The view of Hobbes put forward in these histories was, on the whole, a balanced and careful one.
  • 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.
overall, all in all, all things considered, altogether, taking everything into consideration/account, 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;
normally, usually, more often than not, almost always, most of the time, habitually, customarily, regularly, typically, ordinarily, commonly

the whole nine yards

informal, chiefly North American Everything possible or available: send in the troops, aircraft, nuclear submarine experts, the whole nine yards
More example sentences
  • We actually fall in love and everything, the whole nine yards.
  • On a much happier note, Liza's show at Royal Albert Hall was a smashing success: standing ovations, screaming fans, 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.


Old English hāl, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch heel and German heil, also to hail2. The spelling with wh- (reflecting a dialect pronunciation with w-) first appeared in the 15th century.

Words that rhyme with whole

barcarole, bole, bowl, cajole, coal, Cole, condole, console, control, dhole, dole, droll, enrol (US enroll), extol, foal, goal, hole, Joel, knoll, kohl, mol, mole, Nicole, parol, parole, patrol, pole, poll, prole, rôle, roll, scroll, Seoul, shoal, skoal, sole, soul, stole, stroll, thole, Tirol, toad-in-the-hole, toll, troll, vole

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: whole

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