From Arabic أَيُّ شَيْءٍ هُوَ (ʾayyu šayʾin huwa, literally “what thing is it”), whence also Moroccan Arabic شنو (šnu), اشنو (ašnu), Gulf Arabic شنو (šinu). The ancient genitive ending -in was generally lost, but remained in contraction with the following personal pronoun. Compare also xejn (“nothing”), where the final -n is the accusative ending -an.
- Often equivalent to English “what is”. For details on usage, see the notes at x'.