I looked Up "whole" within Longman Dictionary of Contemporary, where it was considered as both "adjective" and "noun" and looked it up within Merriam-Webster Collegiate and it was considered as "adverb" too, the other the other two functions. So what's the point? Why is there that difference? Which one is correct?

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    Lots of words belong to multiple parts of speech. Some dictionaries also include meanings or senses omitted from others. There is no contradiction.
    – rjpond
    Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 18:00

2 Answers 2


The "adverb" category in English is very large, there are many types of adverbs. Some adverbs modify verbs, some adverbs modify adjectives. There are lots of words that can be used as an adverb in some special situations.

Most uses of "whole" are as a noun or as an adjective. There are some uses that don't seem to be nouns or adjectives:

I swallowed it whole.

Here whole describes the verb "swallowed" and means "in one piece"

So the Merriam-Webster Collegiate is correct. The word "whole" can be an adverb in some situations.


As a noun:

Two halves make a whole. ~ Basic math concept

As an adjective:

"I would shiver the whole night through..." ~ Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Lead Belly

As an adverb:

The exile of the face takes on a whole new meaning in the context of a sensible world revolving around the self... ~ A Philosophy of Exile, Emmanuel Levinas

Do you see how the same word can serve different functions in different situations? As stated in the comments, there is no contradiction.

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