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, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book III, chapter 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]