Definition of what
(Entry 1 of 3)
1a(1) —used as an interrogative expressing inquiry about the identity, nature, or value of an object or matter What is this?What is wealth without friends?What does he earn?What hath God wrought?
(2) —often used to ask for repetition of an utterance or part of an utterance not properly heard or understood You said what?
b(1) —used as an interrogative expressing inquiry about the character, nature, occupation, position, or role of a person What do you think I am, a fool?What is she, that all our swains commend her?— William Shakespeare
(2) archaic : who sense 1 —used as an interrogative expressing inquiry about the identity of a person
c —used as an exclamation expressing surprise or excitement and frequently introducing a question What, no breakfast?
d —used in expressions directing attention to a statement that the speaker is about to make you know what
e(1) —used at the end of a question to express inquiry about additional possibilities Is it raining, or snowing, or what?
(2) —used with or at the end of a question usually in expectation of agreement Is this exciting, or what?
f chiefly British —used at the end of an utterance as a form of tag question A clever play, what?
2a : the thing or things that What you need is a vacation. What angered us was the tone of the article.
b : that which : the one or ones that no income but what he gets from his writings —sometimes used in reference to a clause or phrase that is yet to come or is not yet complete gave also, what is more valuable, understanding
what forwhat have you what ifwhat ofwhat's more what's whatwhat though
1 : for what purpose or reason : why —usually used with the other words of a question between what and for What did you do that for? except when used alone
2 : harsh treatment especially by blows or by a sharp reprimand … gave him what for in violent Spanish … — New Yorker
1 : what will or would be the result if
2 : what does it matter if So what if he doesn't like it.
1 : what is the situation with respect to
2 : what importance can be assigned to
: the true state of things knows what's what when it comes to fashion
: what does it matter if What though the rose have prickles, yet 'tis plucked …— William Shakespeare
Definition of what (Entry 2 of 3)
1 : in what respect : how What does he care?
2 —used to introduce prepositional phrases in parallel construction or a prepositional phrase that expresses cause and usually has more than one object —used principally before phrases beginning with with what with unemployment increasing… what with the war, what with the sweat, what with the gallows, and what with poverty, I am custom-shrunk.— William Shakespeare
3 obsolete : why
Definition of what (Entry 3 of 3)
1a —used as an interrogative expressing inquiry about the identity, nature, or value of a person, object, or matter What minerals do we export?
b : how remarkable or striking for good or bad qualities —used especially in exclamatory utterances and dependent clauses What mountains!Remember what fun we had?What a suggestion!What a charming girl!
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