- enPR: hou, IPA(key): /haʊ/
- (General Australian) IPA(key): /hæɔ/
Audio (UK) (file) Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -aʊ
From Middle English how, hou, hu, hwu, from Old English hū, from Proto-Germanic *hwō, from the same root as hwæt (“who, what”). /hw/ > /h/ due to wh-cluster reduction in Old English; compare who, which underwent this change later, and thus is spelt wh (Middle English spelling of /hw/) but pronounced /h/ (it previously had a different vowel, hence avoided the spelling and sound change in Old English). Vowel change per Great Vowel Shift.
Akin to Scots hoo, foo (“how”), Saterland Frisian wo (“how”), West Frisian hoe (“how”), Low German ho, wo, wu (“how”), Dutch hoe (“how”), German wie (“how”), Swedish hur (“how”). See who and compare why.
how (not comparable)
- (interrogative) To what degree or extent.
- How often do you practice?
- The gauge indicated how hot the oven was.
- 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter IV, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., →OCLC, page 46:
- No matter how early I came down, I would find him on the veranda, smoking cigarettes, or otherwise his man would be there with a message to say that his master would shortly join me if I would kindly wait.
- 2013, Diane Sullivan Everstine; Louis Everstine, Strategic Interventions for People in Crisis, Trauma, and Disaster: Revised Edition, Routledge, →ISBN:
- How damaged is her self-esteem?
- (interrogative) In what manner:
- 2013 August 3, “Boundary problems”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8847:
- Economics is a messy discipline: too fluid to be a science, too rigorous to be an art. Perhaps it is fitting that economists’ most-used metric, gross domestic product (GDP), is a tangle too. […] But as a foundation for analysis it is highly subjective: it rests on difficult decisions about what counts as a territory, what counts as output and how to value it. Indeed, economists are still tweaking it.
- By what means.
- How do you solve this puzzle?
- How else can we get this finished?
- She showed him how to do it.
- With overtones of why, for what reason.
- How should I know whether he likes raisins or not? Ask him!
- In what form, shape, measure, quantity, etc.
- 1831, Nicolas Wanostrocht, A Grammar of the French Language: With Practical Exercises, page 372:
- How do you sell your brandy? We sell it by the gallon, and not by the bottle.
- 2005, Tim Stafford, Knowing the Face of God, Revised Edition: Deepening Your Personal Relationship with God, Wipf and Stock Publishers, →ISBN, page 191:
- How does God appear in these religions? Hinduism has a thousand faces for God, some likable, some horrible. You can pick and choose your preferred image. Buddhism does not even have an image of God, but concentrates on man.
- With what meaning or effect.
- How the stock market interprets events has real consequences.
- 1906, Gibbons Stamp Weekly, page 110:
- A heap of stamps? Yes. Stamps they were indeed, hundreds of penny Queen's Heads neatly mounted on the original sheets. "Good God!" exclaimed Mr. Erskine as he turned to Mr. Sackville, "how am I to take this, sir?" said he severely. "Where are the real stamps? Were they ever inside, ever in your possession at all? If it is a joke, it is a very poor one."
- By what title or what name.
- 1907, Edward Byles Cowell, The Jātaka: Or, Stories of the Buddha's Former Births, page 44:
- "How art thou called? Thy name make known; Thy father's name and family,—tell me thy father's and thine own."
- 2015, Edmond H. Weiss, The Elements of International English Style: A Guide to Writing Correspondence, Reports, Technical Documents, and Internet Pages for a Global Audience, Routledge, →ISBN, page 111:
- Salutation—How does one address the recipient; what titles, greetings, and honorifics are preferred; how does one manage the problem of unknown gender; […]
- At what price, for what amount (of money).
- c. 1596–1599 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Second Part of Henry the Fourth, […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene ii]:
- Shal. How a score of ewes now?
Sil. Thereafter as they be: a score of good ewes may be worth ten pounds.
- (interrogative) In what state or condition.
- How are you?
- How was your vacation?
- 2016, VOA Learning English (public domain)
- How's the new apartment? — The new apartment is great!
Audio (US) (file)
- How's the new apartment? — The new apartment is great!
- Used as a modifier to indicate surprise, delight, or other strong feelings in an exclamation.
- How very interesting!
- How wonderful it was to receive your invitation.
- 1973, “Yesterday Once More”, in Now & Then, performed by the Carpenters:
- Those were such happy times and not so long ago / How I wondered where they'd gone
- 2021 July 7, Phil McNulty, “England 2-1 Denmark”, in BBC Sport:
- How England had to fight for victory against this steely Denmark with an inspired keeper in Kasper Schmeichel, especially after conceding their first goal of the tournament to Mikkel Damsgaard's stunning free-kick after 30 minutes.
- See usage notes on else (adverb).
- How good is it? means "To what extent is it good?", whereas How is it good? means "In what manner is it good?". Likewise, I know how good it is means "I know the extent to which it is good", whereas I know how it is good means "I know the manner in which it is good".
- and how
- any old how
- ask how high when someone says jump
- die how one lived
- die just how one lived
- don't teach your grandmother how to milk ducks
- don't try to teach grandma how to suck eggs
- get it how one gets it
- get it how one lives
- get it how one lives it
- how-to-vote card
- how about
- how about no
- how about that
- how are things
- how are you
- how are you doing
- how are you getting along
- how are you going
- how bist
- how came you so
- how can you sleep at night
- how come
- how dare you
- how did he die
- how did it go
- how do
- how do I get to
- how do I get to the airport
- how do I get to the bus station
- how do I get to the train station
- how do ye do
- how do you do
- how do you like
- how do you like that
- how do you like them apples
- how do you mean
- how do you pronounce this word
- how do you say … in English
- how do you spell this word
- how embarrassment
- how far
- how goes it
- how goes the battle
- how goes the war
- how long
- how long is a piece of string
- how many
- how many languages do you speak
- how many siblings do you have
- how manyth
- how much
- how much does it cost
- how much do I owe you
- how much do you charge
- how much is it
- how no
- how now
- how old are you
- how say you
- how should I know
- how so
- how the mighty have fallen
- how the other half lives
- how the sausage gets made
- how the turntables
- how the wind is blowing
- how to
- how very dare you
- know how many beans make five
- know how to pick 'em
- know how to walk before one can run
- mind how you go
- no matter how one slices it
- see how the land lies
- teach grandma how to suck eggs
- that's how the cookie crumbles
- The manner or way in which.
- I remember how I solved this puzzle.
- In any way in which; in whatever way; however.
- People should be free to live how they want.
- That, the fact that.
- 2010 April 24, Jesse McKinley, “Don’t Call It ‘Pot’ in This Circle; It’s a Profession”, in The New York Times, page A1:
- “There’s this real Al Capone fear that they’re going to get our guys, not on marijuana, but on something else,” Mr. Edson said, referring to how Capone was eventually charged with tax evasion rather than criminal activity.
- She told me how her father was a doctor.
- The means by which something is accomplished.
- I am not interested in the why, but in the how.
- 1924, Joseph Rickaby, Studies on God and His Creatures, page 102:
- It is an a posteriori argument, evincing the fact, but not the how.
- 2008 March 21, The New York Times, “Movie Guide and Film Series”, in New York Times:
- A wham-bam caper flick, efficiently directed by Roger Donaldson, that fancifully revisits the mysterious whos and speculative hows of a 1971 London bank heist.
From Middle English howe, hough, hogh, partly from Old English hōh (“promontory”), and partly from Old Norse haugr (“a how, mound”). Compare Old French höe (“hillock, hill”), from the same Germanic source.
how (plural hows)
- (dialectal) An artificial barrow or tumulus; in later folklore, associated with fairies.
- 1928, Lewis Spence, Mysteries of Britain, page v. 136:
- Fianlly, as regards the places in which these rites and mysteries may have been held, certain writers believe them to have been the "Fairy Hills" or "howes" in various parts of Scotland.
- 1985, Jennifer Westwood, Albion, published 1992, page xi. 432:
- The fairy feast inside the howe (and this barrow is hill-sized) reminds one of nothing so much as a tale in the Icelandic Eyrbyggia saga, written in the mid thirteenth century.
- (dialectal) A small hill in northern England. (Usage preserved mainly in place names.)
From a Siouan language; compare Lakota háu. Alternatively from Wyandot haau.
- A greeting, used in representations of Native American speech.
- “how”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.
- “how”, in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
- how at OneLook Dictionary Search
(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)
- Muka, Arnošt (1921, 1928), “how”, in Słownik dolnoserbskeje rěcy a jeje narěcow (in German), St. Petersburg, Prague: ОРЯС РАН, ČAVU; Reprinted Bautzen: Domowina-Verlag, 2008
- Starosta, Manfred (1999), “how”, in Dolnoserbsko-nimski słownik / Niedersorbisch-deutsches Wörterbuch (in German), Bautzen: Domowina-Verlag
From Old English hū, from Proto-West Germanic *hwō, from Proto-Germanic *hwō.
- “hǒu, conjunctive adv.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
- Alternative form of hough (“promontory”)
- Alternative form of fowe
- 1867, GLOSSARY OF THE DIALECT OF FORTH AND BARGY:
- How yarthe to-die, mee joee?
- How art thou to-day, my joy?
- Jacob Poole (1867), William Barnes, editor, A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland, London: J. Russell Smith, page 80
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