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4 definitions found
 for what
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.]
     [1913 Webster]
     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?
        [1913 Webster]
  
              What see'st thou in the ground?       --Shak.
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              What is man, that thou art mindful of him? --Ps.
                                                    viii. 4.
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              What manner of man is this, that even the winds and
              the sea obey him!                     --Matt. viii.
                                                    27.
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     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
           relatives.
           [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.
           [1913 Webster]
  
     2. As an exclamatory word:
        (a) Used absolutely or independently; -- often with a
            question following. "What welcome be thou." --Chaucer.
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                  What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
                                                    --Matt. xxvi.
                                                    40.
            [1913 Webster]
        (b) Used adjectively, meaning how remarkable, or how
            great; as, what folly! what eloquence! what courage!
            [1913 Webster]
  
                  What a piece of work is man!      --Shak.
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                  O what a riddle of absurdity!     --Young.
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     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.
           [1913 Webster]
        (c) Sometimes prefixed to adjectives in an adverbial
            sense, as nearly equivalent to how; as, what happy
            boys!
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                  What partial judges are our love and hate!
                                                    --Dryden.
            [1913 Webster]
  
     3. As a relative pronoun: 
        [1913 Webster]
        (a) Used substantively with the antecedent suppressed,
            equivalent to that which, or those [persons] who, or
            those [things] which; -- called a compound relative.
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                  With joy beyond what victory bestows. --Cowper.
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                  I'm thinking Captain Lawton will count the noses
                  of what are left before they see their
                  whaleboats.                       --Cooper.
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                  What followed was in perfect harmony with this
                  beginning.                        --Macaulay.
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                  I know well . . . how little you will be
                  disposed to criticise what comes to you from me.
                                                    --J. H.
                                                    Newman.
            [1913 Webster]
        (b) Used adjectively, equivalent to the . . . which; the
            sort or kind of . . . which; rarely, the . . . on, or
            at, which.
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                  See what natures accompany what colors. --Bacon.
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                  To restrain what power either the devil or any
                  earthly enemy hath to work us woe. --Milton.
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                  We know what master laid thy keel,
                  What workmen wrought thy ribs of steel.
                                                    --Longfellow.
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        (c) Used adverbially in a sense corresponding to the
            adjectival use; as, he picked what good fruit he saw.
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     4. Whatever; whatsoever; what thing soever; -- used
        indefinitely. "What after so befall." --Chaucer.
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              Whether it were the shortness of his foresight, the
              strength of his will, . . . or what it was. --Bacon.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     5. Used adverbially, in part; partly; somewhat; -- with a
        following preposition, especially, with, and commonly with
        repetition.
        [1913 Webster]
  
              What for lust [pleasure] and what for lore.
                                                    --Chaucer.
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              Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat, what
              with the gallows, and what with poverty, I am custom
              shrunk.                               --Shak.
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              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.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     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.
           Lytton.
           [1913 Webster]
  
     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.
        [1913 Webster]
  
              What time the morn mysterious visions brings.
                                                    --Pope.
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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  What \What\, n.
     Something; thing; stuff. [Obs.]
     [1913 Webster]
  
           And gave him for to feed,
           Such homely what as serves the simple clown. --Spenser.
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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  What \What\, interrog. adv.
     Why? For what purpose? On what account? [Obs.]
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           What should I tell the answer of the knight. --Chaucer.
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           But what do I stand reckoning upon advantages and gains
           lost by the misrule and turbulency of the prelates?
           What do I pick up so thriftily their scatterings and
           diminishings of the meaner subject?      --Milton.
     [1913 Webster]

From V.E.R.A. -- Virtual Entity of Relevant Acronyms (September 2014) :

  WHAT
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