- why: What are you doing that for? You want that package now? What for?
- Older Use: Informal. a punishment or scolding: If he stays out late again, his parents are going to give him what for!
Origin of what
British Dictionary definitions for what for
- used with a noun in requesting further information about the identity or categorization of somethingwhat job does he do?
- (as pronoun)what is her address?
- (used in indirect questions)does he know what man did this?; tell me what he said
- the (person, thing, persons, or things) thatwe photographed what animals we could see
- (as pronoun)bring me what you've written; come what may
- for what purpose? why?
- informal a punishment or reprimand (esp in the phrase give (a person) what for)
- what would happen if?
- what difference would it make if?
Word Origin for what
Idioms and Phrases with what for (1 of 2)
For what purpose or reason, why, as in I know you're going to England, but what for? [Mid-1700s]
A punishment or scolding, as in You'll get what for from Mom if she catches you smoking, or The teacher really gave Bud what for. [Colloquial; second half of 1800s]
Idioms and Phrases with what for (2 of 2)
In addition to the idioms beginning with what
- what about
- what do you know
- what do you take me for?
- what for
- what gives
- what goes around comes around
- what have you
- what if
- what in the world
- what is more
- what it takes
- what makes one tick
- what of it?
- what the hell
- what with
- come what may
- for all one is (what it's) worth
- get what's coming to one
- it's (what) a zoo
- just what the doctor ordered
- know the score (what's what)
- left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing
- no matter (what)
- on earth, what
- or what?
- practice what you preach
- sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, what's
- so what
- where's (what's) the beef?
- you know something (you know what)