what's the matter

What's the matter (with someone or something)?

What is going on (with someone or something)? What is wrong or the problem (with someone or something)? Hey, what's the matter? You look distressed. What's the matter with this computer? It keeps turning off all on its own. What's the matter with Sarah? She's been in a foul mood all day.
See also: matter, someone

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 ?
"Come on, Beauty, what's the matter?" Of course I could not tell him, but I knew very well that the bridge was not safe.
"What's the matter? I only congratulated them," said Zherkov.
"Come, what's the matter, old fellow?" said Nesvitski trying to soothe him.
"What's the matter?" exclaimed Prince Andrew standing still in his excitement.
"What's the matter? What did you think you saw, Ned; another alligator?"
Presently a fox met him: 'What's the matter, my friend?' said he, 'why do you hang down your head and look so lonely and woe-begone?' 'Ah!' replied the horse, 'justice and avarice never dwell in one house; my master has forgotten all that I have done for him so many years, and because I can no longer work he has turned me adrift, and says unless I become stronger than a lion he will not take me back again; what chance can I have of that?
"What's the matter with you -- what is the matter with you, child?"
"What's the matter now?" said she, smartly, as she put down her cup.
"What's the matter now?" repeated my sister, more sharply than before.
'What's the matter with the dogs' legs?' whispered Mr.
'Well, Wilkins, what's the matter with you?' said Captain Boldwig.
"What's the matter? Don't you love classical music?"
The music stopped, at that, and the machine turned its horn from one to another and said with great indignation: "What's the matter now?
"Can't you see what's the matter; couldn't you see when I came in?
"What's the matter with them beans?" she challenged.