The DICT Development Group
1 definition found
for What if
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :
What \What\ (hw[o^]t), pron., a., & adv. [AS. hw[ae]t, neuter of
hw[=a] who; akin to OS. hwat what, OFries. hwet, D. & LG.
wat, G. was, OHG. waz, hwaz, Icel. hvat, Sw. & Dan. hvad,
Goth. hwa. [root]182. See Who.]
1. 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?
What see'st thou in the ground? --Shak.
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? --Ps.
What manner of man is this, that even the winds and
the sea obey him! --Matt. viii.
Note: Originally, what, when, where, which, who, why, etc.,
were interrogatives only, and it is often difficult to
determine whether they are used as interrogatives or
[1913 Webster] What in this sense, when it refers to
things, may be used either substantively or
adjectively; when it refers to persons, it is used only
adjectively with a noun expressed, who being the
pronoun used substantively.
2. As an exclamatory word:
(a) Used absolutely or independently; -- often with a
question following. "What welcome be thou." --Chaucer.
What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
(b) Used adjectively, meaning how remarkable, or how
great; as, what folly! what eloquence! what courage!
What a piece of work is man! --Shak.
O what a riddle of absurdity! --Young.
Note: What in this use has a or an between itself and its
noun if the qualitative or quantitative importance of
the object is emphasized.
(c) Sometimes prefixed to adjectives in an adverbial
sense, as nearly equivalent to how; as, what happy
What partial judges are our love and hate!
3. As a relative pronoun:
(a) Used substantively with the antecedent suppressed,
equivalent to that which, or those [persons] who, or
those [things] which; -- called a compound relative.
With joy beyond what victory bestows. --Cowper.
I'm thinking Captain Lawton will count the noses
of what are left before they see their
What followed was in perfect harmony with this
I know well . . . how little you will be
disposed to criticise what comes to you from me.
(b) Used adjectively, equivalent to the . . . which; the
sort or kind of . . . which; rarely, the . . . on, or
See what natures accompany what colors. --Bacon.
To restrain what power either the devil or any
earthly enemy hath to work us woe. --Milton.
We know what master laid thy keel,
What workmen wrought thy ribs of steel.
(c) Used adverbially in a sense corresponding to the
adjectival use; as, he picked what good fruit he saw.
4. Whatever; whatsoever; what thing soever; -- used
indefinitely. "What after so befall." --Chaucer.
Whether it were the shortness of his foresight, the
strength of his will, . . . or what it was. --Bacon.
5. Used adverbially, in part; partly; somewhat; -- with a
following preposition, especially, with, and commonly with
What for lust [pleasure] and what for lore.
Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat, what
with the gallows, and what with poverty, I am custom
The year before he had so used the matter that what
by force, what by policy, he had taken from the
Christians above thirty small castles. --Knolles.
Note: In such phrases as I tell you what, what anticipates
the following statement, being elliptical for what I
think, what it is, how it is, etc. "I tell thee what,
corporal Bardolph, I could tear her." --Shak. Here what
relates to the last clause, "I could tear her;" this is
what I tell you.
What not is often used at the close of an enumeration
of several particulars or articles, it being an
abbreviated clause, the verb of which, being either the
same as that of the principal clause or a general word,
as be, say, mention, enumerate, etc., is omitted. "Men
hunt, hawk, and what not." --Becon. "Some dead puppy,
or log, or what not." --C. Kingsley. "Battles,
tournaments, hunts, and what not." --De Quincey. Hence,
the words are often used in a general sense with the
force of a substantive, equivalent to anything you
please, a miscellany, a variety, etc. From this arises
the name whatnot, applied to an ['e]tag[`e]re, as being
a piece of furniture intended for receiving
miscellaneous articles of use or ornament.
[1913 Webster] But what is used for but that, usually
after a negative, and excludes everything contrary to
the assertion in the following sentence. "Her needle is
not so absolutely perfect in tent and cross stitch but
what my superintendence is advisable." --Sir W. Scott.
"Never fear but what our kite shall fly as high." --Ld.
What ho! an exclamation of calling.
What if, what will it matter if; what will happen or be the
result if. "What if it be a poison?" --Shak.
What of this? What of that? What of it? etc., what
follows from this, that, it, etc., often with the
implication that it is of no consequence; so what? "All
this is so; but what of this, my lord?" --Shak. "The night
is spent, why, what of that?" --Shak.
What though, even granting that; allowing that; supposing
it true that. "What though the rose have prickles, yet't
is plucked." --Shak.
What time, or What time as, when. [Obs. or Archaic] "What
time I am afraid, I will trust in thee." --Ps. lvi. 3.
What time the morn mysterious visions brings.
Contactemail@example.com Specification=RFC 2229