what's the matter

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what's the matter

What is the difficulty or problem? What troubles or ails you? For example, You look upset-what's the matter? or Can you tell me what's the matter with my car? This idiom uses matter in the sense of "the essence of something," in this case a problem. It was first recorded in 1469. Also see what's with.
See also: matter
References in classic literature ?
In telegraphic sentences, half swallowed at the ends, They hint a matter's inwardness--and there the matter ends.
For the beloved kingdom of God, was first rent, and broken, by ill counsel; upon which counsel, there are set for our instruction, the two marks whereby bad counsel is for ever best discerned; that it was young counsel, for the person; and violent counsel, for the matter.
That first, they ought to refer matters unto them, which is the first begetting, or impregnation; but when they are elaborate, moulded, and shaped in the womb of their counsel, and grow ripe, and ready to be brought forth, that then they suffer not their counsel to go through with the resolution and direction, as if it depended on them; but take the matter back into their own hands, and make it appear to the world, that the decrees and final directions
And are we assured, after looking at the matter from many points of view, that absolute being is or may be absolutely known, but that the utterly non-existent is utterly unknown?
That particular matter, the matter of your censorship of a certain letter, has been the subject of a grave and earnest conference here between us all.
Will you leave the matter of dealing with this young man in my hands?
Others carry the matter still further, and inquire how many of his ancestors have been citizens, as his grandfather, great-grandfather, etc.
If I made the matter public, I have no evidence but moral evidence to bring forward.
Both got upon their knees to her; and the upshot of the matter for that while was that she showed both of them the door.
The general considered that the girls' taste and good sense should be allowed to develop and mature deliberately, and that the parents' duty should merely be to keep watch, in order that no strange or undesirable choice be made; but that the selection once effected, both father and mother were bound from that moment to enter heart and soul into the cause, and to see that the matter progressed without hindrance until the altar should be happily reached.
Meanwhile, Totski thought the matter over as well as his scattered ideas would permit.
However, as she had considered the matter scientifically, she perfectly well knew, though she had never practised them, all the arts which fine ladies use when they desire to give encouragement, or to conceal liking, with all the long appendage of smiles, ogles, glances, &c.
No, not I," answered Western; "is anything the matter with the girl?
Coulson, but if I were in your position, and knew that a friendly country was feeling a little bit sore at having two of her citizens disposed of so unceremoniously, I'd do my best to prove, by the only possible means, that I was taking the matter seriously.
My friend here--Sir Edward Bransome--and I have already discussed the matter at great length.