Meaning of WHAT in English


/hwut, hwot, wut, wot/ ; unstressed /hweuht, weuht/ , pron.

1. (used interrogatively as a request for specific information): What is the matter?

2. (used interrogatively to inquire about the character, occupation, etc., of a person): What does he do?

3. (used interrogatively to inquire as to the origin, identity, etc., of something): What are those birds?

4. (used interrogatively to inquire as to the worth, usefulness, force, or importance of something): What is wealth without friends?

5. (used interrogatively to request a repetition of words or information not fully understood, usually used in elliptical constructions): You need what?

6. (used interrogatively to inquire the reason or purpose of something, usually used in elliptical constructions): What of it?

7. how much?: What does it cost?

8. (used relatively to indicate that which): I will send what was promised.

9. whatever; anything that: Say what you please. Come what may.

10. the kind of thing or person that: He said what everyone expected he would. They are just what I was expecting.

11. as much as; as many as: We should each give what we can.

12. the thing or fact that (used in parenthetic clauses): He went to the meeting and, what was worse, insisted on speaking.

13. (used to indicate more to follow, additional possibilities, alternatives, etc.): You know what? Shall we go or what?

14. (used as an intensifier in exclamatory phrases, often fol. by an indefinite article): What luck! What an idea!

15. Brit. don't you agree?: An unusual chap, what?

16. Nonstandard. that; which; who: She's the one what told me.

17. Say what? Slang. (used esp. among teenagers) What's that you say? Would you repeat that?

18. So what? Informal. (an expression of disinterest, disinclination, or contempt.)

19. what have you , other things of the same kind; so forth: money, jewels, stocks, and what have you.

20. what for ,

a. why: What are you doing that for?

b. a punishment or scolding.

21. what if , what would be the outcome if; suppose that: What if everyone who was invited comes?

22. 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.

23. what's what , Informal. the true situation; all the facts: It's high time you told him what's what.


24. the true nature or identity of something, or the sum of its characteristics: a lecture on the whats and hows of crop rotation.


25. (used interrogatively before nouns): What news? What clothes shall I pack?

26. whatever: Take what supplies you need.


27. to what extent or degree? how much?: What does it matter?

28. (used to introduce a prepositional phrase beginning with with ): What with storms and all, their return was delayed.

29. Obs. for what reason or purpose? why?


30. (used in exclamatory expressions, often fol. by a question): What, no salt?


31. Older Use. as much as; as far as: He helps me what he can.

32. but what , Informal. but that; but who; who or that ... not: Who knows but what the sun may still shine.

[ bef. 900; ME; OE hwaet; c. G was, D wat, ON hvat; akin to Goth hwa, L quod, Gk tí ]

Usage. 31. See doubt .

Random House Webster's Unabridged English dictionary.      Полный английский словарь Вебстер - Random House .