WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2014
what /hwʌt, hwɑt, wʌt, wɑt; unstressed hwət, wət/USA pronunciation
(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?
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?
Informal Terms, Idiomsso what, (used to express indifference or contempt):They're rich, so what?
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;
why:What did you do that for?
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.
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: