What

Definition of What

pron., a.,1.
1.As an interrogative pronoun, used in asking questions regarding either persons or things; as, what is this? what did you say? what poem is this? what child is lost?
What see'st thou in the ground?
- Shak.
What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
- Ps. viii. 4.
What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
- Matt. viii. 27.
2.As an exclamatory word: - (a) Used absolutely or independently; - often with a question following.
What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
- Matt. xxvi. 40.
3.Used adjectively, meaning how remarkable, or how great; as, what folly! what eloquence! what courage!
What a piece of work is man!
- Shak.
O what a riddle of absurdity!
- Young.
3.As a relative pronoun
4.Sometimes prefixed to adjectives in an adverbial sense, as nearly equivalent to how; as, what happy boys!
What partial judges are our love and hate!
- Dryden.
4.Used substantively with the antecedent suppressed, equivalent to that which, or those [persons] who, or those [things] which; - called a compound relative.
With joy beyond what victory bestows.
- Cowper.
I'm thinking Captain Lawton will count the noses of what are left before they see their whaleboats.
- Cooper.
What followed was in perfect harmony with this beginning.
- Macaulay.
I know well . . . how little you will be disposed to criticise what comes to you from me.
- J. H. Newman.
4.Whatever; whatsoever; what thing soever; - used indefinitely.
Whether it were the shortness of his foresight, the strength of his will, . . . or what it was.
- Bacon.
5.Used adjectively, equivalent to the . . . which; the sort or kind of . . . which; rarely, the . . . on, or at, which.
See what natures accompany what colors.
- Bacon.
To restrain what power either the devil or any earthly enemy hath to work us woe.
- Milton.
We know what master laid thy keel,
What workmen wrought thy ribs of steel.
- Longfellow.
5.Used adverbially, in part; partly; somewhat; - with a following preposition, especially, with, and commonly with repetition.
What for lust [pleasure] and what for lore.
- Chaucer.
Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat, what with the gallows, and what with poverty, I am custom shrunk.
- Shak.
The year before he had so used the matter that what by force, what by policy, he had taken from the Christians above thirty small castles.
- Knolles.
What ho!
an exclamation of calling.
What if
what will it matter if; what will happen or be the result if.
What of this
what follows from this, that, it, etc., often with the implication that it is of no consequence.
- Shak.
What though
even granting that; allowing that; supposing it true that.
- Shak.
What time
when.
- Shak.
6.Used adverbially in a sense corresponding to the adjectival use; as, he picked what good fruit he saw.
n.1.Something; thing; stuff.
And gave him for to feed,
Such homely what as serves the simple lown.
- Spenser.
interrog. 1.Why? For what purpose? On what account?
What should I tell the answer of the knight.
- Chaucer.
But what do I stand reckoning upon advantages and gains lost by the misrule and turbulency of the prelates? What do I pick up so thriftily their scatterings and diminishings of the meaner subject?
- Milton.
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