WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2015
what /hwʌt, hwɑt, wʌt, wɑt; unstressed hwət, wət/USA pronunciation pron. 
  1. (used in questions as a request for information):What is your phone number? What is your wife's name? What is the matter?
  2. (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?
  3. (used in questions to ask for a repetition of words or information not fully understood):You need what?
  4. (used in questions) how much?:What does it cost?
  5. (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).
  6. (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?
  7. (used to introduce an exclamation, or to make stronger the next word or noun):What luck! What an idea!
  8. British Terms[Brit.]don't you agree?:An unusual chap, what?

n. [countable]
  • 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.

  • adj. 
  • (used to signal a question):What time is it?
  • whatever; whichever:Take what supplies you need.

  • adv. 
  • 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.

  • interj. 
  • (used to show shock or surprise, and may then be followed by a question or phrase):What, no kiss?
  • idiom
    1. Informal Terms, Idiomsso what, (used to express indifference or contempt):They're rich, so what?
    2. what for: 
      • why:What did you do that for?
    3. Idiomswhat have you, other things of the same kind; so forth:They stole money, jewels, and what have you.
    4. Idiomswhat if, what would be the outcome if;
      suppose that:What if we get lost?
    5. Idiomswhat it takes, whatever is necessary for success:Do you have what it takes to become a business executive?
    6. Informal Terms, Idiomswhat's what, the true situation:Let's find out what's what around here.

    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    what /wɒt; (unstressed) wət/ determiner
    1. used with a noun in requesting further information about the identity or categorization of something: what job does he do?
    2. (as pronoun): what is her address?
    3. (used in indirect questions): does he know what man did this?, tell me what he said
    4. the (person, thing, persons, or things) that: we photographed what animals we could see
    5. (as pronoun): bring me what you've written, come what may
    6. (intensifier; used in exclamations): what a good book!
    1. in what respect? to what degree?: what do you care?
    1. what aboutwhat do you think, know, feel, etc, concerning?
    2. what forfor what purpose? why?
    3. informal a punishment or reprimand (esp in the phrase give (a person) what for)
    4. what have yousomeone, something, or somewhere unknown or unspecified: cars, motorcycles, or what have you
    5. what ifwhat would happen if?
    6. what difference would it make if?
    7. what matterwhat does it matter?
    8. what's whatinformal the true or real state of affairs
    Etymology: Old English hwæt; related to Old Frisian whet, Old High German hwaz (German was), Old Norse hvatr

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