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or what

A phrase following a statement that adds emphasis or suggests an option. For example, in Is this a good movie or what? the phrase asks for confirmation or agreement. However, it also may ask for an alternative, as in Is this book a biography or what? In the 1700s it generally asked for a choice among a series of options, and it still has this function, as in In what does John excel? in imagination? in reasoning powers? in mathematics? or what?

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