what·ev·er (wŏt-ĕvər, wŭt-, hwŏt-, hwŭt-)
1. Everything or anything that: Do whatever you please.
2. What amount that; the whole of what: Whatever is left over is yours.
3. No matter what: Whatever happens, we'll meet here tonight.
4. Which thing or things; what: Whatever does he mean?
5. Informal What remains and need not be mentioned; what have you: Please bring something to the party—pretzels, crackers, whatever.
1. Of any number or kind; any: Whatever requests you make will be granted.
2. All of; the whole of: She applied whatever strength she had left to the task.
3. Of any kind at all: No campers whatever may use the lake before noon.
Used to indicate indifference to or scorn for something, such as a remark or suggestion: We're having pizza tonight.—Whatever. I don't care.
Usage Note: Both whatever and what ever may be used in sentences such as Whatever (or What ever) made her say that? Critics have occasionally objected to the one-word form, but many respected writers have used it. The same is true of the forms whoever, whenever, wherever, and however. In adjectival uses, however, only the one-word form is used: Take whatever (not what ever) books you need. · When a clause beginning with whatever is the subject of a sentence, no comma should be used: Whatever you do is right. In most other cases, a comma is needed: Whatever you do, don't burn the toast. · When a noun followed by a restrictive clause is preceded by whichever or whatever, it is regarded as incorrect to introduce the clause with that in formal writing: whatever book that you want to look at; one should write instead Whatever book you want to look at will be sent to your office or Whichever book costs less (not that costs less) is fine with us. See Usage Notes at however, that.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.