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what's the matter

What is the difficulty or problem? What troubles or ails you? For example, You look upset—what's the matter? or Can you tell me what's the matter with my car? This idiom uses matter in the sense of “the essence of something,” in this case a problem. It was first recorded in 1469. Also see what's with.

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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.