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"and what not"

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 15, 2005

In Reply to: "And what not" posted by ESC on July 15, 2005

: : : : What is the meaning of the phrase "and what not". I hear people using it all of the time to end sentances but I do not understand the meaning.

: : : whatnot
: : : Main Entry: 1what·not
: : : Pronunciation: 'hwät-"nät, 'wät-, '(h)w&t-
: : : Function: pronoun
: : : Etymology: what not?
: : : : any of various other things that might also be mentioned. Paper clips, pins, and whatnot.

: : Grammatically I think the phrase "what not" may have begun as an answer to the unspoken question "what?" or "what else?" namely, "what not?" You are aware, I imagine, that the word whatnot is sometimes used for a small piece of furniture often hung in a corner with shelves for "what all." SS

: "Whatnots" are also the names of those little ornamental items -- knickknacks, dust catchers, etc. The place you put them is the whatnot shelf or table.

True. Sometimes the whatnot shelf is called just a whatnot. The OED says that whatnot is properly used as two words, which together make "an elliptical interrogative phrase." It cites examples of its use as described above, to end a list of this and that and "what not." SS

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