[ hou ]
See synonyms for: howhows on

  1. in what way or manner; by what means?: How did the accident happen?

  2. to what extent, degree, etc.?: How damaged is the car?

  1. in what state or condition?: How are you?

  2. for what reason; why?: How can you talk such nonsense?

  3. to what effect; with what meaning?: How is one to interpret his action?

  4. what?: How do you mean? If they don't have vanilla, how about chocolate?

  5. (used as an intensifier): How seldom I go there!

  6. by what title or name?: How does one address the president?

  7. at what price: How are the new cars going, cheaper than last year's models?

  8. by what amount or in what measure or quantity?: How do you sell these tomatoes?

  9. in what form or shape?: How does the demon appear in the first act of the opera? How does the medication come?

  1. the manner or way in which: He couldn't figure out how to solve the problem.

  2. about the manner, condition, or way in which: I don't care how you leave your desk when you go. Be careful how you act.

  1. in whatever manner or way; however: You can travel how you please.

  2. Informal. that: He told us how he was honest and could be trusted.

  1. a question concerning the way or manner in which something is done, achieved, etc.: a child's unending whys and hows.

  2. a way or manner of doing something: to consider all the hows and wherefores.

  1. a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter H.

Idioms about how

  1. and how!Informal. certainly! you bet!: Am I happy? And how!

  2. Here's how, Informal. (used as a toast).

  1. how come?Informal. how is it that? why?: How come you never visit us anymore?

  2. how so? how does it happen to be so? why?: You haven't any desire to go? How so?

Origin of how

First recorded before 900; Middle English hou, ou, hu, Old English hū; cognate with Old Frisian hū, ho, Dutch hoe; akin to Old High German hweo, German wie, Gothic hwaiwa

Words Nearby how

Other definitions for how (2 of 2)

[ hou ]

interjectionFacetious: Often Offensive.
  1. (used as a greeting in imitation of American Indian speech.)

Origin of how

First recorded in 1810–20; of uncertain origin

usage note For how

See firewater. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use how in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for how (1 of 2)


/ (haʊ) /

  1. in what way? in what manner? by what means?: how did it happen? Also used in indirect questions: tell me how he did it

  2. to what extent?: how tall is he?

  1. how good? how well? what…like?: how did she sing?; how was the holiday?

  2. how about? used to suggest something: how about asking her?; how about a cup of tea?

  3. how are you? what is your state of health?

  4. how come? informal what is the reason (that)?: how come you told him?

  5. how's that for…?

    • is this satisfactory as regards…?: how's that for size?

    • an exclamation used to draw attention to a quality, deed, etc: how is that for endurance?

  6. how's that?

    • what is your opinion?

    • cricket (an appeal to the umpire) is the batsman out?: Also written: howzat (haʊˈzæt)

  7. how now? or how so? archaic what is the meaning of this?

  8. Also: as how not standard that: he told me as how the shop was closed

  9. in whatever way: do it how you wish

  10. used in exclamations to emphasize extent: how happy I was!

  11. and how! (intensifier) very much so!

  12. here's how! (as a toast) good health!

  1. the way a thing is done: the how of it

Origin of how

Old English hu; related to Old Frisian hū, Old High German hweo

British Dictionary definitions for how (2 of 2)


/ (haʊ) /

sentence substitute
  1. a greeting supposed to be or have been used by American Indians and often used humorously

Origin of how

C19: of Siouan origin; related to Dakota háo

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with how


In addition to the idioms beginning with how

  • how about
  • how about that?
  • how are you?
  • how come?
  • how does that grab you?
  • how do you do?
  • how goes it
  • howling success
  • how so?
  • how the land lies
  • how the wind blows

also see:

  • and how

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.