what / (h)wət; (h)wät/ • pron. 1. [interrog. pron.] asking for information specifying something: what is your name? | I'm not sure what you mean. ∎ asking for repetition of something not heard or confirmation of something not understood: what? I can't hear you you did what?2. [relative pron.] the thing or things that (used in specifying something): what we need is a commitment. ∎ (referring to the whole of an amount) whatever: I want to do what I can to make a difference. ∎ dial. who or that: the one what got to my house.3. (in exclamations) emphasizing something surprising or remarkable: what some people do for attention!• adj. 1. [interrog. adj.] asking for information specifying something: what time is it? | do you know what excuse he gave me?2. [relative adj.] (referring to the whole of an amount) whatever: he had been robbed of what little money he had.3. (in exclamations) how great or remarkable: [as adj.] what luck! | [as predeterminer] what a fool she was. • interrog. adv. 1. to what extent?: what does it matter?2. used to indicate an estimate or approximation: see you, what, about four?3. inf., dated used for emphasis or to invite agreement: pretty poor show, what?PHRASES: and (or or) what have you inf. and/or anything else similar: for a binder try soup, gravy, cream, or what have you.and what not inf. and other similar things.give someone what forsee give.what about ——?1. used when asking for information or an opinion on something: what about the practical angle?2. used to make a suggestion: what about a walk?what-d'you-call-it (or what's-its name) inf. another term for whatchamacallit.what ever used for emphasis in questions, typically expressing surprise or confusion: what ever did I do to deserve him?See usage below. what for? inf. for what reason?what if ——?1. what would result if ——?: what if nobody shows up?2. what does it matter if ——?: what if our house is a mess? I'm clean.what is more and as an additional point; moreover.what nextsee next.what of ——? what is the news concerning ——?what of it? why should that be considered significant?what's-his (or -its) -nameanother term for whatshisname.what say —— ? used to make a suggestion: what say we take a break?what's what inf. what is useful or important: I'll teach her what's what.what with because of (used usually to introduce several causes of something): what with the drought and the neglect, the garden is in a sad condition.ORIGIN: Old English hwæt, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wat and German was, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin quod.