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What, 1) interr. pron. used to inquire after quality or kind of things; a) substantively, as subject, or predicate, or object, in principal or subordinate sentences; f. i. “what am I that thou shouldst contemn me this?” Ven. 205. “what is ten hundred touches unto thee?” Ven. 205 “what is thy body but a swallowing grave?” Ven. 205 “what's the matter?” Tp. II, 1, 309. “what where these? A living drollery,” III, 3, 20. “what's the noise?” Ant. IV, 14, 104. “and what not done, that thou hast cause to rue, wherein I had no stroke of mischief in it?” Tit. V, 1, 109. “what seest thou in the ground?” Ven. 118. “what shall she say?” Ven. 118 “what should I do?” Ven. 118 Ven. 118 Ven. 118 “w. seest thou else?” Tp. I, 2, 49. “'tis you that have the reason. To do what?” Gent. II, 1, 151. “what doth our cousin lay to Mowbray's charge?” R2 I, 1, 84 etc. “canst not feel what 'tis to love?” Ven. 201. “thou knowest not what it is,” Ven. 201 “art ignorant of what thou art,” Tp. I, 2, 18. Tp. I, 2, 18 know not what we mean, Ven, Tp. I, 2, 18 “let me remember thee what thou hast promised,” Tp. I, 2, 243. I know them, and what they weigh, Ado V, I, 93 etc. Anglicisms: “what is the time o'the day?” Tp. I, 2, 239. “what do you think the hour?” Tim. III, 4, 8. “what is the night?” Mcb. III, 4, 126 (== how far is the night advanced?). “what is your name?” Tp. III, 1, 36. Meas. II, 1, 45. Meas. II, 1, 45 Err. III, 2, 110. Ado IV, 2, 11. LLL II, 209. As I, 2, 233. Tw. I, 2, 26. H6B II, 3, 81. IV, 2, 105. R3 IV, 2, 40. “what your name is else I know not,” Err. III, 2, 29. “what do you call your knight's name?” Wiv. III, 2, 20. “what may I call your name?” Shr. II, 67. “call me what thou darest,” Gent. II, 3, 63. “trow you what he called me?” LLL V, 2, 279. “what shall I call thee?” As I, 3, 125. As I, 3, 125 Shr. Ind. 2, 110. H4A I, 3, 242. H4B IV, 1, 1. H6B I, 4, 52. Tit. V, 2, 61. Hml. III, 2, 246 etc.
b) adjectively: “what bare excuses makest thou,” Ven. 188. “what great danger dwells upon my suit,” Ven. 188 “what hour is this?” Ven. 188 “what bargains may I make,” Ven. 188 Ven. 188 Ven. 188 “what cheer?” Tp. I, 1, 2. “what foul play had we?” I, 2, 60. “what impossible matter will he make easy next?” II, 1, 88. II, 1, 88 “what stuff is this?” II, 1, 88 III, 3, 18. “to what end are all these words?” Shr. I, 2, 250 etc. “mark . . . with what care he cranks,” Ven. 681. “say in brief for what cause thou camest to Ephesus,” Err. I, 1, 31. “Jove knows what man thou mightst have made,” Cymb. IV, 2, 207 etc. With the indefinite article, contrary to modern use: “what a strange drowsiness possesses them?” Tp. II, 1, 199 (M. Edd. possesses them!). “what a coil is there? who are those at the gate?” Err. III, 1, 48. “that it may show me what a face I have, since it is bankrupt of his majesty,” R2 IV, 266. “what an unkind hour is guilty of this lamentable chance?” Rom. V, 3, 145 (M. Edd. chance!). Peculiar passage: “what is he for a fool that betroths himself to unquietness?” Ado I, 3, 49 (== what fool is he; cf. For). In such phrases as: what a plague means my niece (Tw. I, 3, 1. H4A II, 2, 39 etc.), a plague is parenthetical.
Used in exclamations; substantively: “O father Abram, what these Christians are!” Merch. I, 3, 161. “what mortality is!” Cymb. IV, 1, 16. Adjectively, with the ind. article: “what a sight it was!” Ven. 343. “what a war of looks!” Ven. 343 “what a mansion have those vices got,” Sonn. 95, 9. “dost thou forget from what a torment I did free thee?” Tp. I, 2, 251. II, 1, 24. II, 1, 24 II, 1, 24 III, 2, 71. IV, 222. V, 295. Meas. III, 1, 240. Err. V, 269. H6B II, 1, 5. H6C V, 4, 12 etc. Without the indef. article (not only before abstracts, as f. i. Gent. I, 2, 15. Meas. III, 1, 241): “what banquet wert thou to the taste!” Ven. 445. “what treasure hast thou lost!” Ven. 445 “what trouble was I then to you!” Tp. I, 2, 151. “thou best knowest what torment I did find thee in,” Tp. I, 2, 151 “out of that 'no hope' what great hope have you!” II, 1, 240. “what fool is she!” Gent. I, 2, 53 (O. Edd. 'fool, M. Edd. a fool). “what fine change is in the music!” IV, 2, 68. “I'll tell the world what man thou art,” Meas. II, 4, 154. “what case stand I in!” Wint. I, 2, 352. “what dreadful noise of waters in mine ears!” R3 I, 4, 22. “what night is this!” Caes. I, 3, 42. “what thing it is that I never did see man die,” Cymb. IV, 4, 35 etc.
Various elliptical use: a) what == for what purpose? why? f. i. “what may a heavy groan advantage thee?” Ven. 950. “what tell you me of it?” H4B I, 2, 129. “what dares the slave come hither?” Rom. I, 5, 57. Hence, as it were by an anticipation of the expected answer, having the force of a negative: “what were thy lips the worse for one poor kiss?” Ven. 207. “what recketh he his riders angry stir?” Ven. 207 “what cares he now for curb?” Ven. 207 “what canst thou boast of things long since?” Ven. 1077. “what cares these roarers for the name of king?” Tp. I, 1, 17. “what should I don this robe and trouble you?” Tit. I, 1, 189. “what boots it thee to call thyself a sun?” V, 3, 18. “what doth her beauty serve but as a note where I may read . . .,” Rom. I, 1, 241. “what should I stay?” Ant. V, 2, 316 etc. Especially before the verb to need: “what needs a second striking?” Ven. 250. “what needeth then apologies be made?” Lucr. 31. “what shall I need to draw my sword?” Cymb. III, 4, 34. Gent. II, 1, 158. Err. III, 2, 15. H8 II, 4, 128. Caes. II, 1, 123 etc. Hence
b) what though == the simple though; originally == what do I care though, no matter though (with the subjunctive): “what though the rose have prickles, yet 'tis plucked,” Ven. 574. “what though her frowning brows be bent, her cloudy looks will calm ere night,” Pilgr. 311. “what though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care,” Ado V, 1, 132. “what though he love your Hermia? Lord, what though? yet Hermia still loves you,” Mids. II, 2, 109. “what though I be not so in grace as you, . . ., this should you pity rather than despise,” III, 2, 232. “what though you have no beauty, . . . must you be therefore proud?” As III, 5, 37. “what though I be enthralled? he seems a knight,” H6A V, 3, 101. H6B I, 1, 158. H6C V, 4, 3. H8 III, 2, 97 etc. what though, alone, == no matter, never mind, 'tis all one: “but what though? yet I live like a poor gentleman born,” Wiv. I, 1, 286. “but what though? courage!” As III, 3, 51. “by chance, but not by truth; what though?” John I, 169. H5 II, 1, 9.
Similarly: “and what an if his sorrows have so overwhelmed his wits, shall we be thus afflicted in his wreaks?” Tit. IV, 4, 9. “how canst thou believe an oath? What if I do not? . . . yet I urge thy oath,” Tit. V, 1, 73.
c) what if == what should you say, what would be the consequence if: “what if he had said 'widower Aeneas' too?” Tp. II, 1, 79. “what if we do omit this reprobate till he were well inclined?” Meas. IV, 3, 77. “what if we assayed to steal the clownish fool out of your father's court?” As I, 3, 131. “what if her eyes were there?” Rom. II, 2, 18. “what if this mixture do not work at all? what if it be a poison?” IV, 3, 21. 24 etc.
d) what of == why do you mention, what follows from, what is the matter with: “there want not many that do fear in deep of night to walk by this Herne's oak. But what of this?” Wiv. IV, 4, 41. “have not your worship a wart above your eye? Yes, marry, have I; what of that?” I, 4, 158. “well, Mistress Ford; what of her?” II, 2, 55. “all this is so, but what of this, my lord?” Ado IV, 1, 73. “and what of him? did he take interest?” Merch. I, 3, 76. Shr. IV, 4, 77. Shr. IV, 4, 77 IV, 2, 66. All's V, 3, 204. Wint. IV, 4, 403. H6B IV, 2, 143. IV, 7, 53. Troil. I, 2, 14. Cor. V, 4, 3. Tim. I, 1, 83. Tim. I, 1, 83 Caes. II, 1, 141 (but w. of Cicero? == what do you think of C. cf. LLL IV, 3, 282). Hml. III, 2, 311. Oth. IV, 1, 23. Cymb. V, 5, 150. 317 etc. Similarly: “what with him? he comes not like to his father's greatness,” Wint. V, 1, 88 (== what is the matter with him?). Hence what of that == no matter, never mind: “the night is spent. Why, what of that?” Ven. 717. “I am thought as fair as she, but what of that? Demetrius thinks not so,” Mids. I, 1, 228. “I cannot instantly raise up the gross of full three thousand ducats; what of that? Tubal . . . will furnish me,” Merch. I, 3, 57. IV, 1, 260. Tw. II, 3, 196. III, 4, 23. H4B IV, 3, 43. H6A III, 1, 59. H6C IV, 1, 49. V, 4, 13. V, 4, 13 V, 4, 13 Cor. V, 1, 4. Rom. II, 2, 12. II, 4, 221. Hml. III, 2, 251 etc.
e) what, alone, superfluously introducing a question: “what, must our mouths be cold?” Tp. I, 1, 56. “what, art thou waking?” II, 1, 209. “what, are they broken?” Gent. II, 5, 19. “what, will you walk with me about the town,” Err. I, 2, 22. “what, you wrestle tomorrow?” As I, 1, 126. “what, hast thou dined?” Shr. IV, 3, 59. “what, by a horseman or a footman?” Wint. IV, 3, 67. “what, shall I find you here?” Caes. IV, 1, 10. “say, what, is Horatio there?” Hml. I, 1, 19. “what, has this thing appeared again?” Hml. I, 1, 19 “what, looked he frowningly?” I, 2, 231. cf. “but what, but what, come they to visit us?” LLL V, 2, 119. “what now? how chance thou art returned so soon?” Err. I, 2, 42. “what now, Lucilius, is Cassius near?” Caes. IV, 2, 3. “what now, my son, have I not ever said . . .,” John I, 31.
Similarly as a word of exclamation, expressing surprise, or exultation, or impatience: “what, canst thou talk?” Ven. 427. “what, all so soon asleep!” Tp. II, 1, 191. “what, shall these papers lie like telltales here,” Gent. I, 2, 133. “what, gone without a word!” II, 2, 16. “what, didst thou offer her this from me?” IV, 4, 58. “how now, Grumio! what, Grumio!” Shr. IV, 1, 111. “now, Cinna; now, Metellus; what, Trebonius!” Caes. II, 2, 120. “what! I do bring good news,” H4B V, 3, 133. “what! we have many goodly days to see,” R3 IV, 4, 320. “what, girl! though grey do something mingle with our younger brown, yet ha' we a brain,” Ant. IV, 8, 19. “what, I say, my foot my tutor?” Tp. I, 2, 468. “what! an advocate for an impostor!” Tp. I, 2, 468 “what, man! I know them!” Ado V, 1, 92. “what, courage, man!” Ado V, 1, 92 “what, this gentleman will out-talk us all,” Shr. I, 2, 248. John I, 245. H4B IV, 5, 110. H5 V, 2, 166. Cor. IV, 1, 14. Tit. IV, 2, 97. Tim. IV, 3, 30. Ant. IV, 15, 83 etc.
Employed in calling to persons, particularly when it is done with some impatience: “what, Ariel!” Tp. IV, 33. “what, John Rugby,” Wiv. I, 4, 1. Wiv. I, 4, 1 Wiv. I, 4, 1 “what, John! what, Robert!” III, 3, 1. III, 3, 1 “what, wife, I say,” IV, 2, 125. Ado III, 3, 102. Merch. II, 5, 3. Merch. II, 5, 3 H4A II, 1, 4. H4A II, 1, 4 H4B V, 1, 2. Troil. V, 2, 1. V, 6, 5. Rom. I, 3, 3. Rom. I, 3, 3 IV, 4, 23. IV, 5, 1. Caes. II, 1, 5. V, 3, 72. Ant. II, 7, 138 “(these drums, these trumpets, flutes, what!).” IV, 12, 30. what ho, in the same sense: Tp. I, 2, 313. Gent. I, 2, 66. Wiv. I, 1, 74. IV, 2, 9. IV, 2, 9 Meas. III, 1, 44. IV, 1, 50. IV, 2, 20. IV, 3, 25. Shr. IV, 1, 152. Tw. I, 5, 318. H4A II, 1, 52. R3 III, 2, 1 (Ff my lord). Rom. I, 1, 90. IV, 4, 23. Caes. II, 1, 1 etc.
2) == that which; substantively: “what follows more she murders with a kiss,” Ven. 54. “so offers he to give what she did crave,” Ven. 54 “controlling what he was controlled with,” Ven. 54 Ven. 54 “lorded not only with what my revenue yielded,” Tp. I, 2, 98. “will't please you taste of what is here,” III, 3, 42. I, 2, 369. “I do fearfully believe 'tis done, what we so feared he had a charge to do,” John IV, 1, 75. “look, what I speak, my life shall prove it true,” R2 I, 1, 87. “with what his valour did enrich his wit, his wit set down to make his valour live,” R3 III, 1, 85 (== that with which). “what you have spoke, it may be so perchance,” Mcb. IV, 3, 11. “our story, what we have two nights seen,” Hml. I, 1, 33. “what our contempt doth often hurl from us, we wish it ours again,” Ant. I, 2, 127 etc. Adjectively: “paying what ransom the insulter willeth,” Ven. 550. “set all hearts i'the state to what tune pleased his ear,” Tp. I, 2, 85. what strength I have is mine own, Epil. Tp. I, 2, 85 “for what obscured light the heavens did grant did but convey unto our minds a doubtful warrant of immediate death,” Err. I, 1, 67. “I made thee miserable what time I threw the people's suffrages on him,” Tit. IV, 3, 19 etc. With reference to a preceding substantive: “he can afford no praise to thee but what in thee doth live,” Sonn. 79, 12. “no ill luck stirring but what lights on my shoulders,” Merch. III, 1, 99. “all proofs sleeping else but what your jealousies awake,” Wint. III, 2, 114. “draw no swords but what are sanctified,” H4B IV, 4, 4. cf. what (counsels) “ever have been thought on in this state,” Cor. I, 2, 4 (a much vexed passage. Later Ff and most M. Edd. what ever hath etc.). cf. R3 V, 2, 20 (Qq who).
3) == who (but only in the predicate): “what is this maid?” Tp. V, 185. “what are you, sir? He, sir, a tapster,” Meas. II, 1, 62. “what is that Barnardine?” IV, 2, 132. “what are you?” IV, 3, 27. “one in the prison . . . I have reserved alive. What's he?” V, 472. Err. III, 1, 42. III, 2, 90. Ado I, 1, 34. II, 1, 137. LLL II, 197. V, 2, 87. V, 2, 87 Mids. V, 71. As II, 4, 88. II, 7, 79. Shr. V, 1, 17. Shr. V, 1, 17 Tw. I, 2, 35. I, 3, 53. I, 5, 124. III, 4, 346. Wint. V, 3, 63. John II, 134. IV, 3, 34. R2 V, 5, 69. H4B I, 2, 66. H5 III, 7, 115. IV, 3, 18. H6A V, 3, 45. H6B I, 3, 183. III, 1, 107. H6C II, 1, 43. III, 3, 44. R3 I, 4, 85. Cor. I, 10, 28. Rom. I, 5, 114. Mcb. V, 7, 2. Hml. IV, 6, 1. Lr. IV, 6, 48. V, 3, 125. Oth. I, 1, 94 etc.
4) == whatever and whoever; a) whatever: “to bear up against what should ensue,” Tp. I, 2, 158. “I beyond all limit of what else i'the world do love, prize, honour you,” III, 1, 72. “call you 'em stanzos? What you will,” As II, 5, 20 (cf. the title of the comedy: Twelfe Night, or What you will; i. e. call it whatever you will). cf. I, 3, 121. “I love thee not a jar o'the clock behind what lady-she her lord,” Wint. I, 2, 44. “come what will,” H4A I, 2, 162; cf. Hml. IV, 7, 189. Cor. III, 1, 141. “wins the king from her, with promise of his daughter, and what else,” H6C III, 1, 51. “to have his pomp and all what state compounds but only painted,” Tim. IV, 2, 35. “what will hap more to-night, safe scape the king,” Lr. III, 6, 121. III, 1, 15. “what pain it cost, what danger,” Cymb. III, 6, 81. “be what it is, the action of my life is like it,” V, 4, 149. b) whoever: “be what thou wilt, thou art my prisoner,” H6A V, 3, 45. “be what they will, I heartily forgive 'em,” H8 II, 1, 65. “that my accusers, be what they will, may stand forth face to face,” V, 3, 47. “what in the world he is that names me traitor, villain-like he lies,” Lr. V, 3, 97.
5) == something, in the phrase I tell you what, or I'll tell you what == let me tell you (not by way of communicating news, but of laying some stress on what one says): Ado V, 4, 101. Merch. I, 1, 86. H4A II, 4, 214. H4B II, 4, 166. H5 III, 6, 86. Rom. III, 5, 162. Shr. I, 2, 113. John III, 3, 60. IV, 3, 120. H4A III, 1, 155. H4B I, 1, 51. V, 4, 9. V, 4, 9 R3 I, 1, 78. III, 1, 89. Troil. V, 2, 21. Cor. IV, 2, 22. Similarly: “wot you what,” R3 III, 2, 92. “this trick may chance to scathe you, I know what,” Rom. I, 5, 86 (== depend on it).
6) == somewhat, in some measure, in the phrase what with, == partly by, partly in consequence of: “my woeful self, . . . what with his art in youth, and youth in art, threw my affections in his charmed power,” Compl. 145. “thus, what with the war, what with the sweat, what with the gallows and what with proverty, I am custom-shrunk,” Meas. I, 2, 83. “I fear, what with the sickness of Northumberland, . . . and what with Owen Glendower's absence thence, . . . I fear the power of Percy is too weak,” H4A IV, 4, 14. “and such a flood of greatness fell on you, what with our help, what with the absent king, what with the injuries of a wanton time,” V, 1, 49. “is it not like that I, so early waking, what with loathsome smells, and shrieks like mandrakes', . . . shall I not be distraught?” Rom. IV, 3, 46. Without with: “a whoreson tisick so troubles me, and the foolish fortune of this girl, and what one thing, what another, that I shall leave you one of these days,” Troil. V, 3, 103.
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