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

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

1. 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.
2. Used rhetorically to indicate that someone else is corrupt, immoral, deranged, etc. What on earth is the matter with these people that they could commit such awful crimes? So you just took the money for yourself, even though you knew it would destroy other people's lives? What's the matter with you?
See also: matter, someone
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

What's the matter?

 and What's the matter with you? 
1. Lit. Is there something wrong with you?; Are you ill? Bill: What's the matter with you? Fred: I have this funny feeling in my chest. Bill: Sounds serious. Bob: I have to stay home again today. Bill: What's the matter with you? Have you seen a doctor? Mary: Oh, I'm so miserable! Sue: What's the matter? Mary: I lost my contact lenses and my glasses. John: Ouch! Alice: What's the matter? John: I bit my tongue.
2. Inf. How very stupid of you! How can you be so stupid? (Usually said in anger.) As Fred stumbled over the step and dumped the birthday cake on the floor, Jane screamed, "What's the matter with you? The party is in fifteen minutes and now we have no cake!" Mary: I think I just lost the Wilson account. Sue: What! What's the matter with you? That account pays your salary!
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in classic literature ?
"What's the matter with you -- what is the matter with you, child?"
'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 with them beans?" she challenged.
"We, obviously, don't want everybody hitting and punching each other, but what's the matter with showing that you are demanding more of each other and you expect more?
ALAN WATERHOUSE Each Generation WHAT'S the matter with kids today Each generation we hear them say Are they really that bad Was it not the same for mam and dad The teens always angry and in rebellion Trying to find their way in life Usually ending up as man and wife And trying to make some kind of statement Of their disapprovement of the establishment Fashions and music too Sometimes just telling you Your world is not for them So new ideas stem So too with their peers Progress to build a world that will change What to the older generation Looks so very strange And so it will be for a new generation to say What's the matter with kids today ALAN WATERHOUSE
Enfield: "What's the matter with it, run out of juice?" Corbett: "No, it's completely frozen."
Ten years ago, a talented polemicist of the left, Thomas Frank, wrote a lively lament, ''What's the Matter with Kansas?'' His book's title replicated the title of a scalding 1896 editorial in The Emporia Gazette by that paper's famous editor William Allen White, who believed that populist hostility to sophisticates and wealth-creators was impoverishing Kansas.
Bethan Wyn Evans added: "What's the matter with people whingeing about everything.
(Nobels have a maximum of three recipients.) Guralnik had come up with the gist of the Higgs field in 1962, during his doctoral research, but an adviser forced him to take that portion out, saying "I don't know what's the matter with it, but it's not right."
The question she posed was: "What's the matter with people today?" It's winter.
. "But if he flubs a lyric or gets confused on stage, I wouldn't want people to think, 'What's the matter with him?
The authors don't always offer a clear solution--in this case, they argue for lighter vehicles, smarter designs and less-rigid factories--but they get to the heart of what's the matter with the way we produce stuff and the shifts we'll need to see if we're ever to approach real sustainability.
In his 2004 book, What's the Matter With Kansas?, Thomas Frank probed the psyches of Midwestern "values voters" to explain why blue-collar Americans abandoned economic self-interest to vote for George W.
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