- 1 [interrogative pronoun] Asking for information specifying something: what is your name? I’m not sure what you meanMore example sentences
- You could be run over by the car of bad luck tomorrow, and what will it all have been for?
- If we did it in a normal car it would have been easier to do but what's the fun in that?
- If he was a fool, what were those his folly whipped into orgies of vicious mockery?
- 2 [relative pronoun] The thing or things that (used in specifying something): what we need is a commitmentMore example sentences
- No one expects us to win, so we just have to go out and give it our all, have a go at them and with a bit of luck who knows what we might achieve.
- Of course, you need to build on your luck and that's what we aim to do against Coventry this weekend.
- She would have wanted us all to be happy and to have fun so that is what we will do.
- 2.1(Referring to the whole of an amount) whatever: I want to do what I can to make a differenceMore example sentences
- She should be able to have fun and do what she wants and not have people antagonising her.
- The coherent arrangement of the pictures allows one to seek out what one wishes to view.
determinerBack to top
- 1 [interrogative determiner] Asking for information specifying something: what time is it? do you know what excuse he gave me?More example sentences
- There was some conflicting information about what kind of semen was in the canister.
- She only cycles at walking pace, so what excuse has she for not obeying the law and dismounting?
- So what excuse does the council have for not allowing food waste in the green bins, it all rots down?
- 2 [relative determiner] (Referring to the whole of an amount) whatever: he had been robbed of what little money he hadMore example sentences
- Much of the debate centred on what money and powers the Government would give assemblies.
- This is just a small amount of what cruelty actually happens, and this is only in Britain as well.
- Stop ruining what little enjoyment some of us poor souls can manage to eke out of the average tedious day.
- 3(In exclamations) how great or remarkable: [as determiner]: what luck! [as predeterminer]: what a fool she wasMore example sentences
- He remarks what a lovely and expensive machine it is and that he will take care of it for you.
- I should have known better than to comment on what a lovely morning it was this morning.
- Only a simple plaque at the graveyard entrance hints at what a remarkable man he was.
adverbBack to top
and (or or) what have you
- • informal And/or anything else similar: for a binder try soup, gravy, cream, or what have youMore example sentences
- It is not a case of something like drains or dry rot or what have you that he can do anything about.
- ‘There's a lot of other people in life that don't get second chances,’ he said, ‘or have diseases or have a freak accident or what have you.’
- I mean, there are an awful lot of journalists who themselves were personally touched by it, either by seeing it or knowing a friend or what have you who were affected or killed or lost.
and what not
- • informal And other similar things.More example sentences
- The advertisements are made through banners, boards and what not.
- I've - coming from war and what not and trying to get back myself back on my own feet, it's been hard.
- The ‘big boys’ of the U.N. are discussing the arms race, the space programme and what not.
give someone what for
- see give.
what about ——?
- 1Used when asking for information or an opinion on something: what about the practical angle?More example sentences
- If a hat on the bed is bad luck, what about a black cat wearing a hat, on a bed?
- So it was a good thing that someone was surprised as she was also, but what about him?
- I went to take a walk with Katja, what about you?
- 2Used to make a suggestion: what about a walk?More example sentences
- ‘Well, sister,’ I said to her, ‘I am very pleased to see that you don't have any problem with walking, but what about my waltz ?’
what-d'you-call-it (or what's-its name)
- Used for emphasis in questions, typically expressing surprise or confusion: what ever did I do to deserve him?More example sentences
- They thought he'd like to praise me in person, now what ever gave them that idea?
- I thought to myself: what ever would prompt a person to make such a statement as this?
- • informal For what reason?.More example sentences
- Widening the probe (what for?) would expand that circle to hundreds and take months.
- ‘For Fate's sake, what for?’ he questions.
- I… guess that would be okay, but… ah, what for?
what if ——?
- 1What would result if ——?: what if nobody shows up?More example sentences
- This might not matter if the war were won easily, but what if the operation went wrong?
- And what if the Scots are left in some halfway house with a few bob in their pockets and nothing more?
- We don't like to think about it, but what if you lose your job or the roof of your house caves in?
- 2What does it matter if ——?: what if our house is a mess? I’m cleanMore example sentences
- So what if more houses get built on the outskirts of Dublin without proper local infrastructure.
- I tried you six different times and so what if I called your house at six in the morning?
- So what if it turns you into a complete basket case - at least it's always exciting, right?
what is more
- And as an additional point; moreover.More example sentences
- Like the political realm, the world of fundamentalism is marked by savvy use of persuasion; what is more, it always has been.
- They are coming in, in ever increasing numbers, and what is more, outspent visitors from every other part of the globe in 1999.
- And what is more, it's a limited edition of 1,000 pieces only, each of which has been signed by Aishwarya.
- see next.
what of ——?
- What is the news concerning ——?.More example sentences
- But what of the worst bits, the bits that make you cringe when you hear them?
- Even talkback callers to this station have expressed their opinion but what of the teenagers themselves?
- But what of the strains of working as both a doctor and a poet in West Kerry?
what of it?
- Why should that be considered significant?.More example sentences
- My folks are away on holiday this week (yes, I've been living with my parents for the last year and a half, what of it?) and the thing I've been looking forward to most of all about having the house to myself for a week has been the food.
- ‘I changed shirts,’ Gary shrugged and turned back to the computer, ‘what of it?‘
- We've all witnessed you kissing him, so what of it?
what's-his (or -its) -name
- another term for whatshisname.
what say ——?
- Used to make a suggestion: what say we take a break?More example sentences
- Instead of expensive training programs, what say we just send these buyers down to a local ‘Harry's Hardware’ for a couple of hours?
- But what say people finally feel enough's enough and curse both houses by putting in community independents or Greens?
- Well, it's been a long time coming and a long time promised but what say we splash a bit of spring water in the two combatants, release the aromas and let the taste off begin?
- • informal What is useful or important: I’ll teach her what’s whatMore example sentences
- And as for the rumbustious cattle, typically I (dog free) found that a period gazing into their big brown eyes soon brought boredom to both parties and one can roll on without them charging along to see what's what.
- De Niro's gravelly voice tells Scorsese: ‘I look you in the eye and tell you what's what.’
- Call back at four this afternoon and we'll tell you what's what.
- Because of (used usually to introduce several causes of something): what with the drought and the neglect, the garden is in a sad conditionMore example sentences
- Here's a category that's heating up, what with all the new developments this year.
- Still, I wouldn't want a romantic clinch with a new love at my age - what with all that cellulite and flab.
- I'm finding it very difficult to sleep at night at the moment, what with all this hot weather we've been having.
Old English hwæt, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wat and German was, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin quod.
On the distinction between what ever and whatever, see whatever (usage).
More definitions of whatDefinition of what in:
- The British & World English dictionary