Meaning of what

what

Pronunciation: (hwut, hwot, wut, wot unstressed hw&schwat, w&schwat), [key]
—n.
  1. the true nature or identity of something, or the sum of its characteristics: a lecture on the whats and hows of crop rotation.
—adj.
  1. (used interrogatively before nouns): What news? What clothes shall I pack?
  2. whatever: Take what supplies you need.
—adv.
  1. to what extent or degree? how much?: What does it matter?
  2. (used to introduce a prepositional phrase beginning with with): What with storms and all, their return was delayed.
  3. for what reason or purpose? why?
—interj.
  1. (used in exclamatory expressions, often fol. by a question): What, no salt?
—conj.
  1. as much as; as far as: He helps me what he can.
  2. but that; but who; who or that … not: Who knows but what the sun may still shine.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.