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Crossword clues for what

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
be (just) what/who you are looking for
▪ ‘Salubrious’! That’s just the word I was looking for.
come what may (=whatever happens)
▪ I knew he’d be able to take care of himself, come what may.
describe how/why/what etc
▪ It’s difficult to describe how I feel.
do what you want
▪ You can do what you want, instead of being told what to do.
(do you) know what I mean? (=used to ask if someone understands or has the same feeling as you)
▪ It’s nice to have a change sometimes. Know what I mean?
(do) you know what/something?
▪ You know what? I think he’s lonely.
do/if you know/see what I mean?spoken (= used to check that someone understands you)
▪ I want to buy her something really special, if you know what I mean.
▪ We’re still married but living apart in the same house, if you see what I mean.
don’t know what came over (=I do not know why I behaved in that way)
▪ I’m sorry about that – I don’t know what came over me .
from what I can gather/as far as I can gather (=this is what I believe to be true)
▪ She’s his niece, from what I can gather.
get what you deserve (=experience something bad after you have behaved badly)
▪ I like films where the bad guys get what they deserve.
get what you want
▪ You’ve got what you wanted, so you might as well leave.
have what it takesinformal (= to have the qualities that are needed for success)
▪ Neil’s got what it takes to be a great footballer.
I hear what you say/what you’re sayingspoken (= used to tell someone that you have listened to their opinion, but do not agree with it)
▪ I hear what you say, but I don’t think we should rush this decision.
I hear what you say/what you’re sayingspoken (= used to tell someone that you have listened to their opinion, but do not agree with it)
▪ I hear what you say, but I don’t think we should rush this decision.
I know what you mean (=I understand, because I have had the same experience)
▪ ‘I just felt so tired.' ‘Yeah, I know what you mean.’.
I know what you mean (=used to say you understand and have had the same experience)
▪ ‘I didn’t really like him.’ 'I know what you mean, I didn’t get on with him either .
I see what you mean (=I understand what you are trying to say)
▪ Oh yeah! I see what you mean.
if you know what I mean
▪ Sometimes it’s better not to ask too many questions, if you know what I mean.
it’s just what I’ve always wanted (=used to thank someone for a present that you really like)
▪ Thanks for the bread machine – it's just what I've always wanted.
knew what...hit (=realized what had happened)
▪ He was gone before they knew what had hit them .
know what...are talking about
▪ The staff are dedicated people who clearly know what they are talking about.
know what...doing (=I do not have enough skill and experience to deal with something)
▪ I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to cars.
meant what...said
▪ I meant what I said earlier.
see what...mean (=I understand what you are saying)
▪ I see what you mean.
stop what you’re doing
▪ Right, stop what you’re doing and come over here.
to what extent? (=how much?)
▪ To what extent does cutting down trees contribute to climate change?
What a cheek!
What a cheek! Of course I read the instructions!
What a dump
▪ ‘What a dump,’ she added as they entered the village.
What a fool
What a fool she had been to think that he would stay.
What a nuisance!British English
▪ What a nuisance! I’ve forgotten my ticket.
What a palaver
What a palaver over nothing!
what a relief
▪ What a relief to be able to say what I really feel!
What a shame
What a shame we missed the wedding.
what all the fuss was about (=why people liked it so much)
▪ Until I heard her sing I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.
what appear to be
▪ Police have found what appear to be human remains.
What astonishes me most is his complete lack of fear.
What do you take me for? (=what sort of person do you think I am?)
▪ Of course I won’t tell anyone! What do you take me for?
What does...mean
What does ‘patronizing’ mean?
What good is...when
What good is money when you haven’t any friends?
What I mean is (=used to explain more about what you have said)
What I mean is, I don’t feel alone anymore.
what I want to do is ...
▪ What I want to do is develop the skills I already have.
What interests me is all the history of these places.
what is meant by
▪ The report fails to define what is meant by the term ‘key issues’.
what is the world/the country etc coming to? (=used to say that the world etc is in a bad situation)
what kind (of sth)?
▪ What kind of milk shake would you like?
what matters is
▪ I don’t care what it looks like – what matters is that it works.
What Not to Wear
What remains of
What remains of his original art collection is now in the city museum.
what sb had imagined (=what someone thought something would be like, before they saw it or experienced it)
▪ The office was not what he had imagined.
what seemed like an eternity
▪ Here she waited for what seemed like an eternity.
what sounded like
▪ I heard what sounded like fireworks.
What surprised...most
What surprised me most was that she didn’t seem to care.
what the future holds (=what will happen)
▪ He is worried about what the future holds for the company.
what the future holds
▪ Thousands of workers are waiting to see what the future holds.
what the trouble is
▪ A couple of nurses rushed into the room to see what the trouble was.
what was left of (=used when very little is left)
▪ He pointed to what was left of the house .
what worries me is .../the (only) thing that worries me is ...
▪ The only thing that worries me is the food. I don’t want to get food poisoning.
what...had in mind
▪ It was a nice house, but it wasn’t quite what we had in mind.
what/how/who etc the fuck
▪ What the fuck do you think you’re doing? about
What I like about the job is that it’s never boring.
▪ It’s pretty obvious what she means.
▪ She does what she pleases.
What...weigh (=how much)
What do you weigh?
who/what/why etc do you suppose ... ?
▪ Who on earth do you suppose could have done this?
▪ How do you suppose he got here?
(and) what's more
▪ These detergents are environmentally friendly; what's more, they're relatively cheap.
▪ What's more, the price of a mobile home often includes appliances.
▪ All stylishly embossed with your club's emblem. What's more, each item carries an equally attractive price tag.
▪ And what's more it's clean.
▪ And what's more it's encouraging people to be brief and efficient.
▪ And what's more, I can always teach.
▪ And what's more, scarce a word out of you.
▪ And what's more, they're free!
▪ The company is perceived through its design, is judged by it. What's more, people buy design rather than function.
▪ Yes, it had a heater and, what's more, you could even have air conditioning and automatic transmission.
(well,) what do you know?
I hate to think what/how/where etc
▪ But take care of them, darling. I hate to think what we'd do if they had to be replaced.
I'll see what I can do
▪ "I really need it by tomorrow." "I can't make any promises, but I'll see what I can do."
I/I'll tell you what
▪ I tell you what, I'll make you dinner if you drive me to the store.
What are you drinking?
What is sb playing at?
What price fame/glory etc?
What's your/his etc problem?
be just what the doctor ordered
for what it's worth
▪ For what it's worth, I think you did a fine job.
▪ My feeling, for what it's worth, is that they should be regarded as wasting assets.
give sb what for
guess what/you'll never guess who/what etc
if you know what's good for you
▪ If you know what's good for you, you'll do what I tell you.
▪ You'll just keep your mouth shut about this if you know what's good for you!
if you know what's good for you
it's a shame/what a shame etc
it/what gets me
▪ Again, it gets me away utterly from television.
▪ But it gets me out of the house for a while.
▪ But never mind the niceties: it gets me in.
▪ But what gets me most is when somebody dies who hasn't really lived.
▪ Heaven knows I've tried talking to him, but it gets me nowhere.
▪ Sometimes I can laugh it off but inside it gets me down.
▪ That's what gets me about it.
▪ The same old thing - cleaning the same things all the time, that's what gets me.
know what you are talking about
▪ Look, I know what I'm talking about because I was there when it happened.
▪ Pilger knows what he is talking about, having spent several years as a reporter in Vietnam.
▪ Rolim seemed to know what he was talking about, but his theories raised some questions for me.
▪ Wayne, you don't know what the hell you're talking about.
▪ And those who hint that this approach increases the guilt of the patient simply do not know what they are talking about.
▪ But the debate will be between two insiders who know what they are talking about.
▪ But we ensure we first know what we are talking about.
▪ Engineers should only offer an opinion if they know what they are talking about.
▪ They are not the only people who know what they are talking about when it comes to children and education.
▪ They have demonstrated publicly, through close scrutiny by their peers, that they know what they are talking about.
know/understand what it means to be sth
▪ If you are overweight, then you know what it means to be in emotional pain.
look what you're doing/look where you're going etc
look what you've done!
▪ Now look what you've done! You'll have to clean it up.
no matter how/whether/what etc
▪ Another 10 percent or so will vote Republican, no matter what.
▪ As devoted parents, they want to stand by their son no matter what happens.
▪ But inside the Forum, no matter how lopsided the talent levels, the setting alone made it great.
▪ But the algorithm is the same finite set of instructions no matter how big the numbers.
▪ My priority is to drive the business, bring in the revenue, no matter what it takes.
▪ The Universe is one organic whole, no matter how diverse and widely differing its manifold aspects may seem to be.
▪ Throughout the century, no matter what the current literary rage, Contemporary Romances have maintained a quiet, yet devoted audience.
no matter what
▪ Actually, no matter what happens to the business cycle, people will continue to eat and to get sick.
▪ Children benefit from knowing that they will be cared for and loved, no matter what their performance in school.
▪ Dinah tells her she will always have a friend to turn to, no matter what trouble she may find.
▪ Frequent cancellations, no matter what the excuse, make a diva seem a dangerously risky investment.
▪ I found acceptance in my music, so -- no matter what I was -- they liked my music.
▪ No matter how it manifests itself, no matter what the cause, it's bad news, believe me.
▪ They had to get out, no matter what the weather, and run around the car five times.
▪ Throughout the century, no matter what the current literary rage, Contemporary Romances have maintained a quiet, yet devoted audience.
not give a shit (what/whether/about etc)
▪ As David said, the union simply does not give a shit.
not know what hit you
not know what sb sees in sb
▪ What does Ron see in her?
not quite why/what/where etc
▪ But it is not quite what it seems.
▪ Only his shoes seemed to be a little too pointed - not quite what men one knew would wear.
▪ So Feuerbach's sensuous anthropology, much praised even by Karl Barth, is not quite what it seems.
▪ Somehow we get the feeling this is not quite what Tucson Mayor George Miller had in mind.
▪ That is not quite what we suggested, which was that it should have regard to affordability.
▪ The whole situation was very unusual and not quite what I expected it to be.
▪ They are not quite what I should have expected from a man like Serafin.
▪ This is not quite what was expected.
now what?
▪ And now what about these phone calls?
▪ And now what is she doing?
▪ Fine, he was persuaded, and he was doing everything possible to achieve the goals. Now what?
▪ He knew now what he wanted.
▪ Heart disease, then major cardiac surgery and now what is being described as pneumonia have kept him from work.
▪ I could see now what it was about Barry that kept me standing there.
▪ Liam Murphy was now what could be called in any circumstances a rich man.
▪ Not the same at all now what's happened has happened.
practise what you preach
▪ And Scott the rapier-slim rapper backs up this message by practising what he preaches.
▪ Both Johnson and Lady Macleod found the book wanting, her objection being that the author did not practise what he preached.
▪ I just wanted to see if he practised what he preached.
▪ In most areas of life, he tries to practise what he preaches.
▪ It is a good thing he practises what he preaches.
▪ It is also important to practise what you preach.
▪ The paper would practise what it preached.
▪ The tight control on public sector pay is crucial and underlines the fact that the Government intends to practise what it preaches.
say what you like
▪ Clearly western painters said what they liked, how they liked.
▪ From now on he could do and say what he liked - they wouldn't raise a squeak.
▪ He could say what he liked, but she was now controlling the agenda.
▪ I can say what I like.
▪ If she just vanishes, Elizabeth Roisin can say what she likes, but there's nothing she can do!
▪ There must, he said, be a place where people are free to say what they like.
▪ We can do what we like and say what we like to whomever we like, without restriction.
▪ While manufacturers say what they like about themselves through advertising, favourable public opinion for their products or services is earned.
say what?
▪ At each anniversary National Savings will write and say what the guaranteed rate is for the next 12 months.
▪ For the first time in his life he was free from corporate restraints, to say what he really thought.
▪ I want to know who says what.
▪ In this kind of situation neither can say what their real feelings are.
▪ It is always a matter of setting priorities and saying what is real for today.
▪ Male speaker It's a very psychological part - you have to keep saying what the scene is about in your head.
▪ People close to the negotiations declined to say what Liggett might pay under an expanded agreement.
▪ She tried to imagine herself walking along the corridor, knocking on Luke's bedroom door and saying - saying what?
sb is (living) on another planet/what planet is sb on?
▪ As a replacement for the Bluebird, the Primera is on another planet.
▪ People in the Antelope Valley worry that most people south of the mountains think that their valley is on another planet.
see sth for what it is
see what I mean?
▪ See what I mean, Dad, about this camera being difficult to use?
▪ And little enough for cleverness, if you see what I mean.
▪ BBut you see what I mean.
▪ Do you see what I mean, he was trying?
▪ He had this manner, as if he was a bit above the rest of us, if you see what I mean.
▪ He just has the feelings, if you see what I mean.
▪ I think you will see what I mean only after tasting this bread.
▪ You see what I mean about having to keep up with things.
▪ You see what I mean when I say it's nothing new, it's been endlessly talked around.
see what sb/sth can do
▪ But I don't see what you can do about it.
▪ I hardly see what I can do that the consul can't.
▪ I will go into the streets and see what I can do.
▪ Perdita saw what they can do.
▪ The depth on this team -- you saw what Ship can do.
▪ Why not see what you can do?
▪ Will he see what he can do to persuade the public sector to follow the private sector's practice in this case?
see/find out what sb is (really) made of
something/anything/what happens to sb/sth
▪ Actually, no matter what happens to the business cycle, people will continue to eat and to get sick.
▪ Do all the fish die and what happens to the occupants of metal-hulled boats?
▪ If anything happens to me, just bury me at Wounded Knee.
▪ Suppose Holt's 6-year-old does opt out of school? What happens to her then?
▪ Tell the students to hold the jars and look at the items through them. What happens to the items?
▪ The power is cut! What happens to the cake?
▪ We thought of having a party on that day to watch what happens to one another.
▪ What are the determinants of supply? What happens to the supply curve when each of these determinants changes?
that's all I need/that's just what I didn't need
that's what I mean
▪ "You've got to think about later on in life, too." "That's what I mean. It's getting closer."
▪ And that's what I mean about friends.
▪ But that's what I meant about technology having caught you up.
▪ I deny I get long holidays, that's what I mean.
▪ I think that's what I mean.
that's what you/they etc think!
the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing
the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing
there's no telling what/how etc
what ails sth
what are we waiting for?
▪ What are we waiting for? Let's go eat.
what are you like!
what are you talking about?
▪ What are you talking about? - Ron has lots of money.
▪ And I was like, I was just like, what are you talking about?
▪ And, anyway, what are you talking about, the rich man in his castle?
what are you waiting for?
▪ What are you waiting for? Ask her out on a date.
▪ And with actual tickets for the event up for grabs, what are you waiting for?
▪ So what are you waiting for.
what became of ...?/whatever will become of ...?
what can I do you for?
▪ Good morning, Mitch! What can I do you for today?
what can/do you expect?
▪ Nothing spectacular but what do you expect from beginners?!!!
▪ Sad about the Derwent but what can we expect?
▪ Sure, what do you expect for that kind of money?
▪ What can we expect in the future?
▪ What can you expect from those young people in the small towns.
▪ What do you expect from an also-ran business publication like Fortune?
what do you mean ...?
what do you say?
▪ How about going to Europe this summer? What do you say?
▪ And what do we say of the present day psychiatrist how mad, how mad?.
▪ Come on, what do ya say?
▪ I am like well what did she say?
▪ Now what do you say to a goofy question like that?
▪ Question, what did he say to your statements?
▪ Well, brother, what do you say to a girl not seen or heard from for five years.
▪ Well, hey; what do you say to us taking the card game someplace else?
what do you want?
▪ What do you want now? I'm busy.
▪ By the way, what do you want for your birthday?
▪ I can't pretend to be, and you know it, so what do you want?
▪ I was like, okay, what do you want to bet?
▪ Now what do you want me to do?
▪ So we have to ask ourselves, what do these machines really want to do, what do they want to wear?
what does it matter?
▪ We'll do it tomorrow or the next day. What does it matter?
▪ Hill people, valley people, what does it matter if gullibility remains unaffected by our environments?
▪ The same as what does it matter whether or not I was a virgin when I met Gillian?
▪ Well, what does it matter?
what does sb care?
▪ He tells the chauffeur to go gas up the limo, and what does he care?
what does sb know?
▪ I'm not going to listen to Martha. What does she know?
▪ My chaplain snorts in derision but what does he know?
what else can sb do/say?
▪ I told her it looked good. What else could I say?
▪ I do about three hundred sit-ups a day and it still refuses to firm up, but what else can I do?
▪ P.S. Awful - but what else can one do?
▪ So what else can Florida do?
▪ What else can a sinner say?
▪ What else can he realistically do?
▪ What else can I do for you Jim?
▪ What else can I do to improve things?
what goes around comes around
▪ But, as the saying goes, what goes around comes around.
what has sb done with sth?
▪ So what has Renault done with the latest version of its supermini?
what have you got to say for yourself?
what is it now?/now what?
what is sb doing with sth?
what is sb trying to prove?
what is sb/sth doing?
▪ And in the back of my mind was the wild thought, Where is Dean and what is he doing right now?
▪ And now what is she doing?
▪ But what is Rabbit Maranville doing in there?
▪ Just what is this doing to the hearts and minds of our children?
▪ What is Lucinda doing right this moment?
▪ What is the submarine doing up here?
▪ What is this government doing to encourage cycling?
▪ Where is he and what is he doing?
what is sb/sth like?
▪ What's it like living in Spain?
▪ What's the new teacher like?
▪ But what is it like to actually be in Brookie?
▪ But what is it like to go from one pregnancy to the next - going on having more and more children?
▪ But what is it like to possess 360° vision with two, narrow and separate binocular fields?
▪ But what is life like for people living in rural areas who can't afford a car?
▪ But what is morale like in today's force.
▪ So what is the Pro-File like to dive with?
what little
▪ Constant logging threatens to wipe out the little that is left of the rain forest.
▪ They spent what little money they had on a new stereo.
▪ After these meetings we would all sit and eat together what little groceries the people had been able to collect.
▪ Archie suddenly loomed over me, his bloated Zeppelin figure blocking out what little light there was.
▪ At times, Alvin clung slavishly to what little he had observed firsthand of the process of making dances.
▪ By now Dad was sixty-five, and what little lenience he may once have possessed had long since hardened into steely inflexibility.
▪ Grandmother eats what Little Red Cap has brought her; and the girl has learned her lesson.
▪ It was appalling and ridiculous, and this inner battle was draining away what little strength she had left.
▪ Personally, I used to devote what little thought I could muster to the question of nutcrackers.
▪ The majority of the displaced are therefore reluctant to leave the camps and prefer what little protection the church can offer.
what makes sb tick
▪ After working with him for five years, I still don't know what makes him tick.
▪ As a teacher, you need to get to know your students, find out what makes them tick.
▪ Nobody can figure out what makes him tick.
▪ But identifying them, learning about their behaviour and distribution and understanding what makes them tick, requires some enjoyable investigation.
▪ But they also have ideas about how the social world works and what makes its inhabitants tick.
▪ He's always been interested in what makes people tick.
▪ I would listen to what makes you tick and what you like and then be me with those characteristics.
▪ It's like reading a biography of a favourite author to learn what makes them tick.
▪ Jody has thought a lot about what makes Red tick.
▪ Try to figure out what makes him tick.
▪ Who are these men and what makes them tick?
what manner of ...?
▪ What manner of son would treat his mother in such a way?
what possessed sb (to do sth)?
▪ I don't know what possessed me to buy such an ugly dress.
what sb is driving at
▪ She didn't mention "sexual harassment," but I knew what she was driving at.
▪ Many candidates don't recognize what the question is driving at.
what sb says goes
▪ I'm in charge here and what I say goes.
▪ I look up to my brother, what he says goes with me, so that really hurt.
what sb should do with sth/what to do with sth etc
what sb will do for sth
▪ This brings me to what allatostatin will do for us.
what should I see but sth/who should appear but sb etc
what sort of ... ?
what the blazes/who the blazes etc
what the heck
▪ And what the heck did it all mean, anyway?
▪ Hey, what the heck, another big hit from Alomar, and here comes Palmeiro.
▪ I just want to know what the heck happened.
▪ I was like what the heck does that mean?
▪ Martinique, she thought, what the heck, why not give the nude beach a try?
▪ Oh, what the heck - TrueEffects is great fun.
▪ Parents of later learners cringe and begin to wonder what the heck is going on.
▪ So what the heck, folks.
what the hell!
▪ Okay, I'll bet $10 on the Cowboys, what the hell.
what to do with yourself
▪ I don't know what to do with myself.
▪ Once at the top, he had no idea what to do with himself.
▪ Still, it didn't take me long to make up my mind what to do with myself.
▪ Wade stopped and waited, not sure what to do with himself.
what was all that about?
▪ And what was all that about sending him your regards?
what with one thing and another
what's (all) the hurry?/why (all) the hurry?
what's (all) this?
what's biting you/her etc?
what's doing ...?
what's eating sb?
what's got into sb?
what's her/your etc game?
what's his face/what's her face
what's it worth (to you)?
what's new?
what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander
what's sb on?
what's that supposed to mean?
▪ "It sounds like things aren't going too well for you lately." "What's that supposed to mean?"
what's that when it's at home?
what's the betting
▪ What's the betting all was well the night the Vikings came?
what's the big idea?
▪ Hey, what's the big idea? Who said you could borrow my car?
what's the big idea?
what's the damage?
what's the deal?
what's the good of ...?/what good is ...?
what's the matter?/something's the matter/nothing's the matter etc
what's the meaning of this?
▪ What's the meaning of this? I asked you to be here an hour ago!
what's the use (of sth)
▪ And what's the use of being on observation when you can't observe anything?
▪ My granda is dying there and what's the use?
▪ You're a bloody animal, Cullam, without an animal's ... Oh! what's the use?
what's this in aid of?
what's your poison?
what/how about sb/sth
what/how etc the deuce ...?
what/how/where/who in God's name
▪ What in God's name is that noise?
what/how/why etc in heaven's name
what/how/why/where etc the hell?
▪ She admits there are no jobs and wonders what the hell she is doing.
▪ What the hell does the reaction matter if you want to do it?
▪ What the hell was he talking about?
▪ What the hell was she playing at?
▪ Where the hell have you been?
▪ Why the hell couldn't you have told us?
▪ Wondering what the hell he's up to.
what/who/where the dickens ...?
what/who/why etc the devil?
▪ Now what the devil was he to do?
▪ So who the devil are these two engaging, literate, drug-free chatterers sitting down the pub?
▪ What the devil are you getting at?
▪ What the devil does he want?
▪ What the devil have you been doing to yourself?
▪ What the devil was he talking about?
▪ Why the devil do you think I came haring over here?
▪ Why the devil was she so stubborn?
what/why/how etc on earth ...?
who/what etc do you think?
▪ But what do you think my parents would think if I were to become involved with you?
▪ Cleaving to the bosom of my grieving family? What do you think they're doing?
▪ If I have a son, I think I shall send him. What do you think?
▪ Lady: What do you think is the most important aspect of herself a woman should preserve as she grows older?
▪ Let's see how you rate in that area. What do you think we go in for, here in Perugia?
▪ Q: Speaking of which, what do you think of Frank Gifford?
▪ What do you think of your manager? What do you think of our personnel policies and how they're working?
you are what you eat
you have no idea (how/what etc)
you know who/what
you reap what you sow
you're a star!/what a star!
What a mean thing to say!
What are you doing?
What did you say?
What I need is a nice hot bath.
What kind of dog is that?
What nice weather we're having!
▪ I'm not sure what I can do to help you.
▪ Let me see what you've got in the box.
▪ She gave him what money she had.
▪ They're discussing what to do next.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

What \What\, interrog. adv. Why? For what purpose? On what account? [Obs.]

What should I tell the answer of the knight.

But what do I stand reckoning upon advantages and gains lost by the misrule and turbulency of the prelates? What do I pick up so thriftily their scatterings and diminishings of the meaner subject?


What \What\, n. Something; thing; stuff. [Obs.]

And gave him for to feed, Such homely what as serves the simple ?lown.


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.

  1. As an interrogative pronoun, used in asking questions regarding either persons or things; as, what is this? what did you say? what poem is this? what child is lost?

    What see'st thou in the ground?

    What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
    --Ps. viii. 4.

    What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
    --Matt. viii. 27.

    Note: Originally, what, when, where, which, who, why, etc., were interrogatives only, and it is often difficult to determine whether they are used as interrogatives or relatives. [1913 Webster] What in this sense, when it refers to things, may be used either substantively or adjectively; when it refers to persons, it is used only adjectively with a noun expressed, who being the pronoun used substantively.

  2. As an exclamatory word:

    1. Used absolutely or independently; -- often with a question following. ``What welcome be thou.''

      What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
      --Matt. xxvi. 40.

    2. Used adjectively, meaning how remarkable, or how great; as, what folly! what eloquence! what courage!

      What a piece of work is man!

      O what a riddle of absurdity!

      Note: What in this use has a or an between itself and its noun if the qualitative or quantitative importance of the object is emphasized.

    3. Sometimes prefixed to adjectives in an adverbial sense, as nearly equivalent to how; as, what happy boys!

      What partial judges are our love and hate!

  3. As a relative pronoun:

    1. Used substantively with the antecedent suppressed, equivalent to that which, or those [persons] who, or those [things] which; -- called a compound relative.

      With joy beyond what victory bestows.

      I'm thinking Captain Lawton will count the noses of what are left before they see their whaleboats.

      What followed was in perfect harmony with this beginning.

      I know well . . . how little you will be disposed to criticise what comes to you from me.
      --J. H. Newman.

    2. Used adjectively, equivalent to the . . . which; the sort or kind of . . . which; rarely, the . . . on, or at, which.

      See what natures accompany what colors.

      To restrain what power either the devil or any earthly enemy hath to work us woe.

      We know what master laid thy keel, What workmen wrought thy ribs of steel.

    3. Used adverbially in a sense corresponding to the adjectival use; as, he picked what good fruit he saw.

  4. Whatever; whatsoever; what thing soever; -- used indefinitely. ``What after so befall.''

    Whether it were the shortness of his foresight, the strength of his will, . . . or what it was.

  5. Used adverbially, in part; partly; somewhat; -- with a following preposition, especially, with, and commonly with repetition.

    What for lust [pleasure] and what for lore.

    Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat, what with the gallows, and what with poverty, I am custom shrunk.

    The year before he had so used the matter that what by force, what by policy, he had taken from the Christians above thirty small castles.

    Note: In such phrases as I tell you what, what anticipates the following statement, being elliptical for what I think, what it is, how it is, etc. ``I tell thee what, corporal Bardolph, I could tear her.''
    --Shak. Here what relates to the last clause, ``I could tear her;'' this is what I tell you. [1913 Webster] What not is often used at the close of an enumeration of several particulars or articles, it being an abbreviated clause, the verb of which, being either the same as that of the principal clause or a general word, as be, say, mention, enumerate, etc., is omitted. ``Men hunt, hawk, and what not.''
    --Becon. ``Some dead puppy, or log, or what not.''
    --C. Kingsley. ``Battles, tournaments, hunts, and what not.''
    --De Quincey. Hence, the words are often used in a general sense with the force of a substantive, equivalent to anything you please, a miscellany, a variety, etc. From this arises the name whatnot, applied to an ['e]tag[`e]re, as being a piece of furniture intended for receiving miscellaneous articles of use or ornament. [1913 Webster] But what is used for but that, usually after a negative, and excludes everything contrary to the assertion in the following sentence. ``Her needle is not so absolutely perfect in tent and cross stitch but what my superintendence is advisable.''
    --Sir W. Scott. ``Never fear but what our kite shall fly as high.''
    --Ld. Lytton.

    What ho! an exclamation of calling.

    What if, what will it matter if; what willhappen or be the result if. ``What if it be apoison?''

    What of this? What of that? What of it? etc., what follows from this, that, it, etc., often with the implication that it is of no consequence. ``All this is so; but what of this, my lord?''
    --Shak. ``The night is spent, why, what of that?''

    What though, even granting that; allowing that; supposing it true that. ``What though the rose have prickles, yet't is plucked.''

    What time, or What time as, when. [Obs. or Archaic] ``What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.''
    --Ps. lvi. 3.

    What time the morn mysterious visions brings.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

Old English hwæt, referring to things in abstraction; also "why, wherefore; indeed, surely, truly," from Proto-Germanic pronoun *hwat (cognates: Old Saxon hwat, Old Norse hvat, Danish hvad, Old Frisian hwet, Dutch wat, Old High German hwaz, German was, Gothic hva "what"), from PIE *kwod, neuter singular of *kwos "who" (see who). Corresponding to Latin quid.\n

\nMeaning "what did you say?" is recorded from c.1300. As an adjective and adverb, in Old English. As a conjunction in late Old English. Exclamatory use was in Old English. What the _____ (devil, etc.) as an exclamation of surprise is from late 14c. As an interrogative expletive at the end of sentences from 1891; common in affected British speech. Or what as an alternative end to a question is first attested 1766. What have you "anything else one can think of" is from 1925. What's up? "what is happening?" first recorded 1881.\n

\n"To give one what for is to respond to his remonstrant what for? by further assault" [Weekley]. The phrase is attested from 1873; what for? as introducing a question is from 1760. To know what is what is from c.1400; I'll tell you what to emphasize what is about to be said is in Shakespeare.


adv. 1 In some manner or degree; in part; partly; usually followed by ''with''. 2 Such. 3 (label en obsolete) why? 4 (label en now rare) Used to introduce each of two coordinate phrases or concepts; both…and. det. 1 Which; which kind of. 2 How much; how great (used in an exclamation). interj. 1 (non-gloss definition: An expression of surprise or disbelief.) 2 (context British colloquial dated English) Is that not true? n. (context obsolete English) something; thing; stuff pron. 1 (context interrogative English) Which thing, event, circumstance, etc.: used interrogatively in asking for the specification of an identity, quantity, quality, etc. 2 (context relative nonstandard English) that; which. 3 (context relative English) That which; those that; the thing that.


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
  • Winter Haven Area Transit, a transit system in Florida, US

In entertainment:

  • WHAT (AM), a radio station serving Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
  • What? (film), a film directed by Roman Polanski
  • What, the American title for the film The Whip and the Body
  • What Records, a UK record label
  • What? Records, a US record label
  • What.CD, a private music tracker website for BitTorrent users
  • "What?" (song), a song by Rob Zombie
  • "What" a song by Bassnectar from Vava Voom
  • "What?", a song by Corrosion of Conformity from Eye for an Eye
  • "What?", a song by The Move from Looking On
  • "What?", a song by A Tribe Called Quest from The Low End Theory
  • "What", the name of the second baseman in Abbott and Costello's comedy routine " Who's on First?"
  • "What?", a catchphrase of professional wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin

In technology

  • What (ITS utility), a small information utility in the Incompatible Timesharing System

El Zol 1340 WHAT-AM is a commercial radio station located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, broadcasting on 1340 AM. The station is owned by Aztec Capital Partners, Inc.

What (ITS utility)

What (typed as in the prompt) was a small information utility available in the Incompatible Timesharing System. It could provide information about incoming email, bus schedule on the MIT campus, executable source files or answer the user in a humorous manner.

Usage examples of "what".

With what experience we have had with the hog, and that by no means an agreeable one, we can devise no better method of accommodation than this here described, and it certainly is the cheapest.

On the morning Washington departed Philadelphia to assume command at Boston, he and others of the Massachusetts delegation had traveled a short way with the general and his entourage, to a rousing accompaniment of fifes and drums, Adams feeling extremely sorry for himself for having to stay behind to tend what had become the unglamorous labors of Congress.

I was included in the invitation, and Zaira, not understanding French, asked me what we were talking about, and on my telling her expressed a desire to accompany me.

What if the accomplice in first class is something of a criminal mastermind?

And you alone shall share it with me, keeping me strong, and helping me accomplish what I must.

He knew in his heart, though, that what he was about to do would accomplish far more.

Several chances had presented themselves for accomplishing what he had set out to do, but his courage had failed him each time.

But he was gone, and even being without him would not stop her from accomplishing what was necessary.

But he seems to me to have erred in underrating the value of party instrumentalities and of official power in accomplishing what is best for the good of the people.

If you and I differ, it is only as to what is the best means of accomplishing these ends.

This door, it is true, stands open, as it were, in those who think and will from reason in accord with the civil laws of the land and the moral laws of society, for they speak what they think and do what they will to do.

We said that what a man does in freedom in accord with his thought also remains.

Association of University Lecturers, under the tight leadership of old Nazi hands, was given a decisive role in selecting who was to teach and to see that what they taught was in accordance with Nazi theories.

There can be no doubt that he had in mind inflicting on him the treatment he had accorded the Austrian Chancellor and the Czechoslovak President under what he thought were similar circumstances.

What it had refused the Allies the year before it accorded to Nazi Germany.