Main definitions of how in English

: how1how2

how1

adverb

  • 1In what way or manner; by what means.

    ‘how does it work?’
    ‘he did not know how he ought to behave’
    [with infinitive] ‘he showed me how to adjust the focus’
    • ‘Science engages with busy minds that have strong views about how things are and ought to be.’
    • ‘If we cannot even accept these criticisms, how can we claim to be a country of manners?’
    • ‘The very basis of government after all, is subjective views on how things ought to be.’
    • ‘We may not get to choose how we go, but we can definitely choose the manner in which we are waved goodbye.’
    • ‘There is a terrible feeling of being told by other people how we ought to lead our lives.’
    • ‘The people who ran the club before didn't have any knowledge of how a club should be run in a professional manner.’
    • ‘There is a distinction to be made between doing science and thinking about how science ought to be done.’
    • ‘This is not only the best single book on the subject but a model of how military history ought to be written.’
    • ‘Gordon had not caught the man's name, and was unsure how to ask in a polite manner.’
    • ‘Tell me how I can get clear land title in a transparent manner, and I am ready to do it.’
    • ‘Such checks require that we choose what to monitor, when to monitor, and how to adjust treatment.’
    • ‘This is a book that ought to be read to understand how women today got much of what they take for granted.’
    • ‘It is not clear from the available data how these findings ought to be interpreted.’
    • ‘Case law can also be more specific than general comments on how provisions ought to be understood.’
    • ‘But if they do behave in that way there is no need to tell them that that is how they ought to behave.’
    • ‘No more is said in that witness statement as to precisely how or in what manner service had been effected.’
    • ‘He observed that we had built a picture of ourselves that was based on an abstracted picture of how we ought to be.’
    • ‘I watched an equine chiropractor give a horse an adjustment and show us how to fit a saddle.’
    • ‘Would he allow the Fed to be told how to adjust interest rates by a bumbling Dutchman?’
    • ‘One further question: how would you word the abstract in a more objective manner?’
  • 2Used to ask about the condition or quality of something.

    ‘how was your vacation?’
    ‘how did they play?’
    • ‘How are your kids doing when it comes to social graces at the dinner table?’
    • ‘How are things going?’
    1. 2.1Used to ask about someone's physical or mental state.
      ‘how are the children?’
      ‘I asked how he was doing’
      • ‘How Is Your Inner Child?’
      • ‘How are you doing? I had a friend ask me that simple question today, and I wasn't really able to answer it.’
  • 3[with adjective or adverb] Used to ask about the extent or degree of something.

    ‘how old are you?’
    ‘how long will it take?’
    ‘I wasn't sure how fast to go’
    • ‘You'd be forced to hook up with all manner of unsuitable partners just to show how popular you are.’
    • ‘After the initial shock, he was surprised to find out how easily he adjusted to it.’
    • ‘First, even the experts today cannot agree on how common various intersex conditions are.’
    • ‘Any trip, to any record store will prove how little material of quality there is.’
    • ‘I would like to point out to your readers that people in general do not realise how serious this condition is.’
    • ‘Sometimes I think we get carried away in our part of the world with how big and physical we are.’
    • ‘The aim is for me to black out under controlled conditions and see how fast I recover.’
    • ‘It's only when they go on holiday that you realise how oppressed their constant presence makes you feel.’
    • ‘There is a political question about how fast fares ought to be allowed to rise.’
    • ‘He will do so irrespective of how atrocious conditions may become throughout a Scottish winter.’
    • ‘Follow up is commonly too short to show how often the condition relapses or late complications arise.’
    • ‘We have a robust clinical priority system for our operators to identify how serious the condition is.’
    • ‘It's amazing how difficult it is to get a proper physical massage when you want one.’
    • ‘As I was a single, childless young male, I was not told just how serious my condition was.’
    • ‘For common conditions, how appropriate and effective are the services we offer?’
    • ‘For example, they propose trustworthiness as a criterion of how good a qualitative study is.’
    • ‘I was worried about how physically exhausting and painful it was going to be.’
    • ‘She made a mental note of how close the school was to the grocery store and Subway.’
    • ‘That's amazing when you think about how physically demanding the game is nowadays.’
    • ‘It was only once Kate had been x-rayed that doctors realised how serious her condition was.’
    1. 3.1Used to express a strong feeling such as surprise about the extent of something.
      ‘how kind it was of him’
      ‘how I wish I had been there!’
      • ‘How I wish I had my childhood back!’
      • ‘How I wish I could always see my children the way I do today.’
  • 4[relative adverb] The way in which; that.

    ‘she told us how she had lived out of a suitcase for a week’
    • ‘A family told today how their dream holiday on a cruise liner turned into a nightmare.’
    • ‘It's amazing how you can see the personality of the examiner coming out in the tests.’
    • ‘I think how you mentally survive the awfulness if you're sensitive of the situation.’
    • ‘Could that be done in this case without telling juries how they ought to go about fact finding?’
    • ‘It is easy to see how force-dynamic interactions apply to domains other than the physical.’
    • ‘In order to keep his wife happy, he reminds her how it resembles their holiday home on the Caspian.’
    • ‘This is also an example of how the physician influenced household remedies at times.’
    • ‘It is surprising how a little bit of research goes a long way towards solving an issue.’
    • ‘What was not fully understood at the time was how the quality of the armed forces had fallen.’
    • ‘Crouch glanced at his partner and he may have reflected how their differences are more than physical.’
    • ‘Roll on the summer holidays and watch how realism sets into the polls on the euro.’
    • ‘She described how the dreadful conditions and challenges of the trip had used all her mental reserves.’
    • ‘I blush to think how the quality of my tv viewing has declined over the last few months.’
    • ‘I tell her that I'm surprised how the mix of sketch and drama works in the show.’
    • ‘It is surprising how you can do a cover story on a game that is played by only a few.’
    • ‘His attitude showed how domestic violence can be as damaging mentally as it is physically.’
    • ‘We will see shortly how this conception of theoretical entities applies to mental events.’
    • ‘It is surprising how people in the West have such a narrow viewpoint on this matter.’
    • ‘It is amazing how we can all be so familiar with something and not know its history or its origin.’
    • ‘Even our people in Japan have been surprised by how we have cut through the red tape.’
    1. 4.1In any way in which; however.
      ‘I'll do business how I like’
      • ‘I just want to do it how I like thanks.’
      • ‘I do what I want to do and do it how I like to do it.’
      • ‘Because he had been head teacher for so long he had obtained the mentality the school was his and he could run it how he liked.’

Phrases

  • and how!

    • informal Very much so (used to express strong agreement)

      ‘“Did you miss me?” “And how!”’
      • ‘‘This'll do for a start… ‘The Grinch said, ‘and how!’’
      • ‘LaBute was thrilled - ‘people were listening and responding and how!’’
  • here's how!

    • dated Said when drinking to someone's health.

  • how about

    • 1Used to make a suggestion or offer.

      ‘how about a drink?’
      • ‘And if pubic opinion says otherwise, how about treating us as such and giving us free TV licences and bus passes?’
      • ‘There are bigger and better storage systems than you'll see here, and if you have them at work, how about offering me a job?’
      • ‘But before then how about a little chamber music - just sit back, relax and let the glorious sounds wash right over you.’
      • ‘Or how about a session with a chiropodist followed by a pedicure?’
      • ‘But how about a focus on something else that human beings have, the heart?’
      • ‘If there are problems as this man states how about offering solutions instead of criticism?’
      • ‘Or how about sampling some of Danny Krivit's original rare disco edits?’
      • ‘Everyone is always so busy these days, so how about having a chance to try a full range of skin care and make-up in the comfort of your own home.’
      • ‘If they want to make racing more exciting and slow speeds then how about these suggestions.’
      • ‘We do need whiners but how about also suggesting a better way to deliver the winners?’
    • 2Used when asking for information or an opinion on something.

      ‘how about your company?’
      • ‘Or how about editing and simplifying the entire physical universe?’
      • ‘Even if it's too late for this Christmas, how about a New Year resolution to do at least 20 minutes' exercise three times a week.’
      • ‘So if we can't really judge from evidence, how about ideology?’
      • ‘Or how about if two pantry cars had blown up simultaneously when two trains were passing each other?’
      • ‘And how about having tea with the artists you saw the night before onstage?’
      • ‘I have a couple of years to satisfy that goal, so how about something closer to home, and well, more exciting.’
      • ‘Or how about a risk-free investment scheme without any strings attached?’
      • ‘If high gas prices aren't enough to get you down, how about rising dairy prices?’
      • ‘And if media denizens bristle at that word, how about transparency and demystification?’
      • ‘If one set of masts may be safe, how about two or three?’
  • the how and why

    • The methods and reasons for doing something.

      ‘tonight's edition demystifies the how and why of television ratings’
      • ‘When I had finished reading the letter I was no more informed of the how and why of it all than when I'd stepped off onto the platform, but at least I knew the order of play now.’
      • ‘She can have anything she wants or needs if she'll just find the author, find the story behind it, the how and why.’
      • ‘There have been lot of analyses on the how and why of this phenomenon.’
      • ‘This is a fascinating book on the how and why of bird song and includes a cd that accompanies the text in the appendix.’
      • ‘I think it should be a part of every high school curriculum, as well as compulsory education in the how and why of our electoral process.’
      • ‘That confidence has to be regained, and lengthy explanations about the how and why of Manila's response to the hostage crisis won't be enough.’
      • ‘It's difficult to comprehend the how and why of this state of affairs.’
      • ‘You have to investigate the how and why of the problem.’
      • ‘It would take many lifetimes to explore the how and why of nature, and our human existence.’
      • ‘To find out the how and why - and whether - we have to go further back, to the 1880s, when London's and Europe's intellectuals were beset with doubt and anomie.’
  • how come?

    • informal Said when asking how or why something happened or is the case.

      ‘how come you never married, Jimmy?’
      • ‘He said nonsensical things like, ‘You're so many colors all over, how come?’’
      • ‘I told him, ‘If we are not China and we are not Taiwan, then how come?’’
      • ‘He smiled faintly at Michael, ‘I don't mean to sound pressuring or anything, but how come?’’
      • ‘Long-lost customers show up saying ‘Wow, heard you were closing, how come?’’
      • ‘She frowned at me, looking disappointed, and he raised a curious eyebrow, asking, silently, ‘how come?’’
      • ‘He rubbed his palms together ‘Could you explain to us how come?’’
  • how do?

    • An informal greeting.

      • ‘He wrote: "In instructing its Yorkshire public what not to do if meeting The Queen at the races, it warned: a cheery:" How do, missus? '’
      • ‘She greets nearly everyone with warm intimacy, calls "How do?"’
  • how do you do?

    • A formal greeting.

      • ‘‘There hasn't even been a preliminary ‘Hey, how do you do?’’
      • ‘He used to kick off his act with ‘Hello, playmates, how do you do?’’
      • ‘In Eliza's first venture into polite company, she comes off as an automaton relegated to a handful of standard phrases and topics: the weather, people's health and ‘how do you do?’’
      • ‘I'm Jen, the captain of the squad, and this is my brother Ryan, how do you do?’
  • how many

    • What number.

      ‘how many books did you sell?’
      • ‘It's the strength and size of a drink that determines how many units it has.’
      • ‘We would like to know how many calls does it take to evaluate the n th Fibonacci number if we follow the given recurrence.’
      • ‘How many people have your name?’
      • ‘Among other things, it can be used to find how many days old you are and the weekday you were born.’
      • ‘On Unix systems, there is a limit set in the kernel on how many open file descriptors are allowed on the system.’
  • how much

    • What amount or price.

      ‘just how much did it cost?’
      • ‘The Institute talked to 21 UK companies about how much actual data breaches cost them.’
      • ‘I looked at a bunch of my client statistics and asked two or three friends to tell me how much traffic they were receiving from popular stories on each of the sites.’
      • ‘Mass is a measure of how much inertia an object displays.’
      • ‘A company's decision on how much to give to charity can be influenced by its annual profit levels, long-term strategic giving goals, business priorities, and a host of other factors.’
      • ‘Tell us how much you make, how much you've got for a downpayment, and your debt, and find out how far to stretch when home hunting.’
  • how now?

    • archaic What is the meaning of this?

      • ‘How now, a conduit, girl?’
      • ‘How now? A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead’
  • how so?

    • How can you show that that is so?

      • ‘No. All I did was approach her casually, and say, ‘Really, how so?’’
      • ‘How so? Well, the location of our homes and the quality and range of transport links have a great impact on how we travel to work or do our shopping.’
      • ‘‘So I didn't know you knew his dorm room,’ I grinned, ignoring the flush rising up his face I continued. ‘In fact you seem to know him and his room fairly comfortably, how so?’’
      • ‘Her forehead wrinkled in puzzlement, ‘Oh, how so?’’
      • ‘"How so?" He asked, clasping his hands together.’
  • how's that for ——?

    • Isn't that a remarkable instance of ——?

      ‘how's that for stereotypical thinking?’
      • ‘How's That For Customer Service!’
      • ‘How's that for saving memory?’
      • ‘Maybe I won't give you any dessert, how's that?’
      • ‘I adjusted the sign a bit more and asked, ‘how's that?‘’
      • ‘Okay, well I'll page him and then send him straight to you, how's that?’

Origin

Old English hū; related to Dutch hoe, also to who and what.

Pronunciation:

how

/hou/

Main definitions of how in English

: how1how2

how2

exclamation

  • A greeting attributed to North American Indians (used in humorous imitation)

Origin

Early 19th century: perhaps from Sioux háo or Omaha hou.

Pronunciation:

how

/hou/