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Definition of What:

  1. As a relative pronoun
  2. As an exclamatory word: - ( a) Used absolutely or independently; - often with a question following.
  3. As an interrogative pronoun, used in asking questions regarding either persons or things; as, what is this? what did you say? what poem is this? what child is lost?
  4. Something; thing; stuff.
  5. Sometimes prefixed to adjectives in an adverbial sense, as nearly equivalent to how; as, what happy boys!
  6. Used adjectively, equivalent to the . . . which; the sort or kind of . . . which; rarely, the . . . on, or at, which.
  7. Used adjectively, meaning how remarkable, or how great; as, what folly! what eloquence! what courage!
  8. Used adverbially in a sense corresponding to the adjectival use; as, he picked what good fruit he saw.
  9. Used adverbially, in part; partly; somewhat; - with a following preposition, especially, with, and commonly with repetition.
  10. Used substantively with the antecedent suppressed, equivalent to that which, or those [ persons] who, or those [ things] which; - called a compound relative.
  11. Whatever; whatsoever; what thing soever; - used indefinitely.
  12. Why? For what purpose? On what account?


whatever, anything, and other things too numerous to mention, whichever, and more, and so forth, everything, something, etcetera.

Usage examples:

  • What should he do?

    - "The Rough Road", William John Locke.
  • 5963. What was it?

    - "Second Shetland Truck System Report", William Guthrie.
  • What do you think, Carlneau?

    - "The Clue of the Twisted Candle", Edgar Wallace.