what
I. pronoun Etymology: Middle English, from Old English hwæt, neuter of hwā who — more at who Date: before 12th century 1. a. (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) archaic who 1 — used as an interrogative expressing inquiry about the identity of a person (2) — 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 — Shakespeare
>
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
>
2. chiefly dialect that IV,1, which 3, who 3 3. a. 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
>
b. the thing or things that <
what you need is a vacation
>
<
what angered us was the tone of the article
>
4. a. whatever 1a <
say what you will
>
b. obsolete whoever II. adverb Date: before 12th century 1. obsolete why 2. in what respect ; how <
what does he care
>
3. — 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 — Shakespeare
>
III. adjective Date: 13th century 1. a. — 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
>
2. a. (1) whatever 1a (2) any <
ornament of what description soever
>
b. the…that ; as much or as many…as <
rescued what survivors they found
>

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • What — What, pron., a., & adv. [AS. hw[ae]t, neuter of hw[=a] who; akin to OS. hwat what, OFries. hwet, D. & LG. wat, G. was, OHG. waz, hwaz, Icel. hvat, Sw. & Dan. hvad, Goth. hwa. [root]182. See {Who}.] [1913 Webster] 1. As an interrogative pronoun,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • what — W1S1 [wɔt US wa:t, wʌt] pron, determiner, predeterminer [: Old English; Origin: hwAt] 1.) used to ask for information or for someone s opinion ▪ What are you doing? ▪ What subjects did you enjoy most? ▪ What colour is the new carpet? ▪ What s… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • what — [ wat, hwat ] function word *** What can be used in the following ways: as a question pronoun (introducing a direct or indirect question): What do you want? Tell me what happened. as a relative pronoun (starting a relative clause that is subject …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • what — 1. general. As a relative pronoun, what is an especially complex word because it can be either singular or plural and can refer both to words that have gone before and to words that come later in the sentence. In general it stands for a group of… …   Modern English usage

  • what — [hwut, hwät, wut, wät] pron. [ME hwat < OE hwæt, neut. of hwa, who < IE interrogative base * kwo , * kwe > WHERE, WHO, L qui, who what, Lith kàs, what, who] I as an interrogative: which thing, event, circumstance, etc.?: used to ask for… …   English World dictionary

  • what — what; What·man; what·ness; what·so·e er; what·som·ever; what·ten; what·you·may·jig·ger; some·what; what·so·ev·er; what·en; what·na; what·sis; what·sit; what·som·dev·er; …   English syllables

  • What — or WHAT may refer to: What, an interrogative pronoun in English What? , one of the Five Ws used in journalism Web Hypertext Application Technology, a group of people interested in evolving HTML and related technologies Winter Haven Area Transit,… …   Wikipedia

  • what — ► PRONOUN & DETERMINER 1) asking for information specifying something. 2) (as pronoun ) asking for repetition of something not heard or confirmation of something not understood. 3) (as pronoun ) the thing or things that. 4) whatever. 5) used to… …   English terms dictionary

  • what — O.E. hwæt, from P.Gmc. *khwat (Cf. O.S. hwat, O.N. hvat, Dan. hvad, O.Fris. hwet, Du. wat, O.H.G. hwaz, Ger. was, Goth. hva what ), from PIE *qwod, neut. sing. of *qwos who (see …   Etymology dictionary

  • What — What, interrog. adv. Why? For what purpose? On what account? [Obs.] [1913 Webster] What should I tell the answer of the knight. Chaucer. [1913 Webster] But what do I stand reckoning upon advantages and gains lost by the misrule and turbulency of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • what? — idiom (informal) 1. used when you have not heard or have not understood sth • What? I can t hear you. 2. used to show that you have heard sb and to ask what they want • ‘Mummy!’ …   Useful english dictionary

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