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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