what for

what for
W w


    • US Pronunciation
    • US IPA
    • [hwuht, hwot, wuht, wot fawr]
    • /ʰwʌt, ʰwɒt, wʌt, wɒt fɔr/
    • US Pronunciation
    • US IPA
    • [hwuht, hwot, wuht, wot fawr]
    • /ʰwʌt, ʰwɒt, wʌt, wɒt fɔr/

Definitions of what for words

  • noun what for the true nature or identity of something, or the sum of its characteristics: a lecture on the whats and hows of crop rotation. 1
  • adjective what for (used interrogatively before nouns): What news? What clothes shall I pack? 1
  • adjective what for whatever: Take what supplies you need. 1
  • adverb what for to what extent or degree? how much?: What does it matter? 1
  • adverb what for (used to introduce a prepositional phrase beginning with with): What with storms and all, their return was delayed. 1
  • adverb what for Obsolete. for what reason or purpose? why? 1

Information block about the term

Origin of what for

First appearance:

before 900
One of the 4% oldest English words
before 900; Middle English; Old English hwæt; cognate with German was, Dutch wat, Old Norse hvat; akin to Gothic hwa, Latin quod, Greek tí

Historical Comparancy

Parts of speech for What for


what for popularity

A common word. It’s meaning is known to most children of preschool age. About 99% of English native speakers know the meaning and use the word.
Most Europeans know this English word. The frequency of it’s usage is somewhere between "mom" and "screwdriver".

what for usage trend in Literature

This diagram is provided by Google Ngram Viewer

Synonyms for what for

noun what for

  • hard time — a period of difficulties or hardship.
  • hard times — a period of difficulties or hardship.
  • avengement — (rare) The inflicting of retributive punishment; satisfaction taken.
  • avenging — taking vengeance on someone or something for a wrong done
  • chastening — A chastening experience makes you regret that you have behaved badly or stupidly.

See also

Matching words

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