[ hwuht-if, hwot‐, wuht‐, wot‐ ]

  1. hypothetical: a what-if scenario.

  1. a hypothetical case or situation; conjecture: a series of what-ifs.

Origin of what-if

First recorded in 1980–85

Words Nearby what-if

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How to use what-if in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for what-if


  1. informal a hypothetical question; speculation: one of the great what-ifs of modern history

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 what-if


Suppose that, as in What if the speaker doesn't get here in time? This expression is in effect a shortening of “what would happen if.” It was first recorded about 1420.

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