what

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English what, from Old English hwæt (what), from Proto-Germanic *hwat (what), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷód (what), neuter form of *kʷós (who). Cognate with Scots what (what), North Frisian wat (what), Saterland Frisian wat (what), West Frisian wat (what), Dutch wat (what), Low German wat (what), German was (what), Danish hvad (what), Swedish vad (what), Icelandic hvað (what), Latin quod (what, which).

Pronunciation[edit]

Pronoun[edit]

what

  1. (interrogative) Which thing, event, circumstance, etc.: used interrogatively in asking for the specification of an identity, quantity, quality, etc.
  2. (relative, nonstandard) That; which.
  3. (relative) That which; those that; the thing that.
    • 2013 June 21, Oliver Burkeman, “The tao of tech”, The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 2, page 48: 
      The dirty secret of the internet is that all this distraction and interruption is immensely profitable. Web companies like to boast […, or offering services that let you "stay up to date with what your friends are doing", [] and so on. But the real way to build a successful online business is to be better than your rivals at undermining people's control of their own attention.
    he knows what he wants;  what is tossed upward falls back down

Translations[edit]

Adverb[edit]

what (not comparable)

  1. In some manner or degree; in part; partly; usually followed by with.
    What with singing and joking, the time passed quickly.
  2. Such.
    What a pity.
    What a beautiful day!
  3. (obsolete) Why?
    • (Can we date this quote?) Chaucer
      What should I tell the answer of the knight?
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      But what do I stand reckoning upon advantages and gains lost by the misrule and turbulency of the prelates?
  4. (now rare) Used to introduce each of two coordinate phrases or concepts; both…and.
    • 1485, Syr Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Bk.III, Ch.primum:
      And as for on C good knyghtes I haue my self / but I fawte / l / for so many haue ben slayne in my dayes / and so Ladegreans delyuerd his doughter Gweneuer vnto Merlyn / and the table round with the C knyghtes / and so they rode fresshly with grete royalte / what by water and what by land / tyl that they came nyghe vnto london

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Interjection[edit]

what

  1. An expression of surprise or disbelief.
    • 1605 Wm. Shakespeare, King Lear
      What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?
    What! That’s amazing.
  2. (UK, colloquial, dated) Is that not true?
    It’s a nice day, what? (sometimes repeated, e.g.: What-what?)

Translations[edit]

Determiner[edit]

what

  1. Which; which kind of.
    What shirt are you going to wear?
    What time is it?
    What kind of car is that?
  2. How much; how great (used in an exclamation).
    What talent he has!
    What a talent!

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Derived terms[edit]

Noun[edit]

what (uncountable)

  1. (obsolete) something; thing; stuff
    • Spenser
      They prayd him sit, and gave him for to feed / Such homely what as serves the simple clowne, / That doth despise the dainties of the towne []

Statistics[edit]

Anagrams[edit]