what

what [hwut, hwät, wut, wät]
pron.
[ME hwat < OE hwæt, neut. of hwa, who < IE interrogative base * kwo-, * kwe- > WHERE, WHO, L qui, who what, Lith kàs, what, who]
I as an interrogative: which thing, event, circumstance, etc.?: used to ask for the specification of an identity, quantity, quality, etc., as:
1. the nature, class, name, purpose, etc. of a thing [what is that object? what is your address?]
a) an explanation or repetition of something previously said [you told them what?]
b) such an explanation or repetition: used elliptically [Sh. Quiet!” “What?]
2. a quantity, sum, etc. [what will it cost?]
3. the value, importance, or effect of something [what is life without music?]
II as a relative pronoun, with the meaning:
1. that which or those which [to know what one wants]
2. anything that [do what you will]
3. the exact person or thing that [he's not what he was five years ago]
4. that or who: a nonstandard usage [the man what gave it to me]
III as an intensifier in exclamations [what he said about her!]
IV in various other uses
1. [Informal, Chiefly Brit.] used to end a sentence with a general or rhetorical interrogative force [it's rather late, what?]
2. used to introduce a parenthetical element in a sentence [she has, what is rare, true tolerance]
3. used elliptically to mean “what it is,” “what to do,” etc. [I'll tell you what!]
n.
the true or basic quality of something [to uncover the what and why of their relationship]
adj.
1. which or which kind of: used interrogatively or relatively in asking for or specifying the nature, identity, etc. of a person or thing [what man told you that? he knows what role she played]
2. as much, or as many, as [take what time (or men) you need]
3. how great, surprising, magnificent, disappointing, etc.: in exclamations [what a man! what nonsense!]
adv.
1. in what respect? to what degree? how? [what does it matter?]
2. how greatly, surprisingly, etc.: in exclamations [what tragic news!]
3. Obs. why?
conj.
[Brit. Dial.] so far as; as much as [we warned them what we could]
interj.
used to express surprise, anger, confusion, etc. [what! no dinner?]
——————
and what not
and other things of all sorts
——————
what about
what is your wish, opinion, or information concerning [what about going to a movie?]
——————
what for
1. for what purpose? why?
2. Slang punishment; esp., a whipping [he gave his son what for!]
——————
what have you
Informal anything else of a similar sort [selling games, toys, or what have you]
——————
what if
1. what would happen if
2. what difference would it make if
——————
☆ what it takes
Informal whatever is necessary for success or popularity, as wealth, beauty, or intelligence
——————
what's what
Informal the true state of affairs
——————
what the devil or what the heck or what the hell
1. an exclamatory remark of surprise
2. what: used emphatically
——————
what though
what difference does it make that
——————
what with
1. because of [what with the snow and ice, we'll be late]
2. in view of; taking into account [what with the usual rush-hour traffic, I suspect you'll be late]

English World dictionary. . 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

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