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1. An expression used to speculate about something. What if I was able to drive you there. Would that change anything? What if aliens did exist? What would that mean for society?
2. A speculative scenario; a speculation about an outcome that cannot yet be known or ascertained. There is a possibility that we could write off some of these losses, but it's still a big what if at this point.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
What would be the result if something were true? What if you had all the money you want? What if everyone thought you were great?
See also: what
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Suppose that, as in What if the speaker doesn't get here in time? This expression is in effect a shortening of "what would happen if." It was first recorded about 1420.
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.
1 what would happen if ...?: What if the car breaks down?
2 why should I care if ...? what does it matter if ...?: ‘You’ll fail the exam if you don’t work harder, Carol.’ ‘What if I do? It’s not the end of the world.’
See also: what
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. What would occur if; suppose that: What if we were rich?
2. What does it matter if: What if he gets angry?—I don't care.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.