WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2015
what /hwʌt, hwɑt, wʌt, wɑt; unstressed hwət, wət/USA pronunciation
pron. WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2015
the true nature or identity of something, or the sum or total of its characteristics:a lecture on the whats and hows of crop rotation.
(used to signal a question):What time is it?
whatever; whichever:Take what supplies you need.
to what extent or degree?:What does it matter?
(used to introduce a prepositional phrase beginning with[with]and conveying the cause of something):What with storms and all, their return was delayed.
(used to show shock or surprise, and may then be followed by a question or phrase):What, no kiss?
- (used in questions as a request for information):What is your phone number? What is your wife's name? What is the matter?
- (used in questions to ask about the character, origin, identity, or worth of a person or thing):What is the meaning of life? What is wealth without friends?
- (used in questions to ask for a repetition of words or information not fully understood):You need what?
- (used in questions) how much?:What does it cost?
- (used to introduce a clause) that which; whatever;
as much or as many as:I will send what was promised ( = I will send the thing that was promised). We will stick together come what may (= whatever happens).
- (used to indicate that there is more to follow, or that there are additional possibilities, alternatives, etc.):You know what? Shall we go or what?
- (used to introduce an exclamation, or to make stronger the next word or noun):What luck! What an idea!
- British Terms[Brit.]don't you agree?:An unusual chap, what?
- Informal Terms, Idiomsso what, (used to express indifference or contempt):They're rich, so what?
- why:What did you do that for?
- Idiomswhat have you, other things of the same kind; so forth:They stole money, jewels, and what have you.
- Idiomswhat if, what would be the outcome if;
suppose that:What if we get lost?
- Idiomswhat it takes, whatever is necessary for success:Do you have what it takes to become a business executive?
- Informal Terms, Idiomswhat's what, the true situation:Let's find out what's what around here.
(hwut, hwot, wut, wot; unstressed hwət, wət), pron.
(used interrogatively as a request for specific information):What is the matter?
(used interrogatively to inquire about the character, occupation, etc., of a person):What does he do?
(used interrogatively to inquire as to the origin, identity, etc., of something):What are those birds?
(used interrogatively to inquire as to the worth, usefulness, force, or importance of something):What is wealth without friends?
(used interrogatively to request a repetition of words or information not fully understood, usually used in elliptical constructions):You need what?
(used interrogatively to inquire the reason or purpose of something, usually used in elliptical constructions):What of it?
how much?:What does it cost?
(used relatively to indicate that which):I will send what was promised.
whatever; anything that:Say what you please. Come what may.
the kind of thing or person that:He said what everyone expected he would. They are just what I was expecting.
as much as; as many as:We should each give what we can.
the thing or fact that (used in parenthetic clauses):He went to the meeting and, what was worse, insisted on speaking.
(used to indicate more to follow, additional possibilities, alternatives, etc.):You know what? Shall we go or what?
(used as an intensifier in exclamatory phrases, often fol. by an indefinite article):What luck! What an idea!
British Terms[Brit.]don't you agree?:An unusual chap, what?
Slang Terms[Nonstandard.]that; which;
who:She's the one what told me.
Slang TermsSay what? [Slang.](used esp. among teenagers) What's that you say? Would you repeat that?
Informal TermsSo what? [Informal.](an expression of disinterest, disinclination, or contempt.)
what have you, other things of the same kind;
so forth:money, jewels, stocks, and what have you.
- why:What are you doing that for?
what if, what would be the outcome if; suppose that:What if everyone who was invited comes?
what it takes, something that enables one to achieve success or attain a desired end, as good looks, ability, or money:There's a young woman who has what it takes to get along in the world.
Informal Termswhat's what, [Informal.]the true situation; all the facts:It's high time you told him what's what.
the true nature or identity of something, or the sum of its characteristics:a lecture on the whats and hows of crop rotation.
(used interrogatively before nouns):What news? What clothes shall I pack?
whatever:Take what supplies you need.
to what extent or degree? how much?:What does it matter?
(used to introduce a prepositional phrase beginning with with):What with storms and all, their return was delayed.
[Obs.]for what reason or purpose? why?
(used in exclamatory expressions, often fol. by a question):What, no salt?
Slang Terms[Older Use.]as much as; as far as:He helps me what he can.
Informal Termsbut what, [Informal.]but that;
- a punishment or scolding.
who or that … not:Who knows but what the sun may still shine.
31 . See doubt.
Old English hwæt;
cognate with German was, Dutch wat, Old Norse hvat;
akin to Gothic hwa, Latin quod, Greek tí
Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::
what /wɒt; (unstressed) wət/ determiner
- used with a noun in requesting further information about the identity or categorization of something: what job does he do?
- (as pronoun): what is her address?
- (used in indirect questions): does he know what man did this?, tell me what he said
- the (person, thing, persons, or things) that: we photographed what animals we could see
- (as pronoun): bring me what you've written, come what may
- (intensifier; used in exclamations): what a good book!
- in what respect? to what degree?: what do you care?
Etymology: Old English hwæt; related to Old Frisian whet, Old High German hwaz (German was), Old Norse hvatr
- what about ⇒ what do you think, know, feel, etc, concerning?
- what for ⇒ for what purpose? why?
- informal a punishment or reprimand (esp in the phrase give (a person) what for)
- what have you ⇒ someone, something, or somewhere unknown or unspecified: cars, motorcycles, or what have you
- what if ⇒ what would happen if?
- what difference would it make if?
- what matter ⇒ what does it matter?
- what's what ⇒ informal the true or real state of affairs
'what' also found in these entries: