Idioms for what

Origin of what

before 900; Middle English; Old English hwæt; cognate with German was, Dutch wat, Old Norse hvat; akin to Gothic hwa, Latin quod, Greek

usage note for what

25. See doubt.

Definition for what (2 of 2)

[ hwuhts, hwots, wuhts, wots; unstressed hwuh ts, wuh ts ]
/ ʰwʌts, ʰwɒts, wʌts, wɒts; unstressed ʰwəts, wəts /

contraction of what is or what has: What's the matter? What's been done?
contraction of what does: What's she do for a living?

usage note for what's Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for what

Word Origin for what

Old English hwæt; related to Old Frisian whet, Old High German hwaz (German was), Old Norse hvatr

usage for what

The use of are in sentences such as what we need are more doctors is common, although many people think is should be used: what we need is more doctors
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

Idioms and Phrases with what


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