what for - definition and synonyms

phrase spoken
  1. 1
    used for asking the reason for something

    ‘I need to have your name and address’. ‘What for?’

    what...for:

    What did you hit him for?

  2. 2
    informal old-fashioned if you give someone what for, you punish them

    If I catch that boy in my garden again, I’ll give him what for.

See also main entry: what