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

    ‘how was your vacation?’
    ‘how did they play?’
    • ‘How are things going?’
    • ‘How are your kids doing when it comes to social graces at the dinner table?’
    1. 2.1 Used to ask about someone's physical or mental state.
      ‘how are the children?’
      ‘I asked how he was doing’
      • ‘How are you doing? I had a friend ask me that simple question today, and I wasn't really able to answer it.’
      • ‘How Is Your Inner Child?’
  • 3with 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’
    • ‘It's only when they go on holiday that you realise how oppressed their constant presence makes you feel.’
    • ‘The aim is for me to black out under controlled conditions and see how fast I recover.’
    • ‘For common conditions, how appropriate and effective are the services we offer?’
    • ‘It's amazing how difficult it is to get a proper physical massage when you want one.’
    • ‘He will do so irrespective of how atrocious conditions may become throughout a Scottish winter.’
    • ‘We have a robust clinical priority system for our operators to identify how serious the condition is.’
    • ‘For example, they propose trustworthiness as a criterion of how good a qualitative study is.’
    • ‘That's amazing when you think about how physically demanding the game is nowadays.’
    • ‘Sometimes I think we get carried away in our part of the world with how big and physical we are.’
    • ‘First, even the experts today cannot agree on how common various intersex conditions are.’
    • ‘I was worried about how physically exhausting and painful it was going to be.’
    • ‘Follow up is commonly too short to show how often the condition relapses or late complications arise.’
    • ‘There is a political question about how fast fares ought to be allowed to rise.’
    • ‘It was only once Kate had been x-rayed that doctors realised how serious her condition was.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I would like to point out to your readers that people in general do not realise how serious this condition is.’
    • ‘She made a mental note of how close the school was to the grocery store and Subway.’
    • ‘As I was a single, childless young male, I was not told just how serious my condition was.’
    • ‘Any trip, to any record store will prove how little material of quality there is.’
    1. 3.1 Used 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 could always see my children the way I do today.’
      • ‘How I wish I had my childhood back!’
  • 4relative adverb The way in which; that.

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

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 someone's health.

  • how about

    • 1Used to make a suggestion or offer.

      ‘how about a drink?’
      • ‘Or how about a session with a chiropodist followed by a pedicure?’
      • ‘If there are problems as this man states how about offering solutions instead of criticism?’
      • ‘If they want to make racing more exciting and slow speeds then how about these suggestions.’
      • ‘And if pubic opinion says otherwise, how about treating us as such and giving us free TV licences and bus passes?’
      • ‘We do need whiners but how about also suggesting a better way to deliver the winners?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 how about a focus on something else that human beings have, the heart?’
      • ‘But before then how about a little chamber music - just sit back, relax and let the glorious sounds wash right over you.’
    • 2Used when asking for information or an opinion on something.

      ‘how about your company?’
      • ‘Or how about editing and simplifying the entire physical universe?’
      • ‘Or how about a risk-free investment scheme without any strings attached?’
      • ‘I have a couple of years to satisfy that goal, so how about something closer to home, and well, more exciting.’
      • ‘And if media denizens bristle at that word, how about transparency and demystification?’
      • ‘Or how about if two pantry cars had blown up simultaneously when two trains were passing each other?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And how about having tea with the artists you saw the night before onstage?’
      • ‘If high gas prices aren't enough to get you down, how about rising dairy prices?’
      • ‘So if we can't really judge from evidence, how about ideology?’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is a fascinating book on the how and why of bird song and includes a cd that accompanies the text in the appendix.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There have been lot of analyses on the how and why of this phenomenon.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It would take many lifetimes to explore the how and why of nature, and our human existence.’
      • ‘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.’
  • how come?

    • 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?’’
      • ‘He smiled faintly at Michael, ‘I don't mean to sound pressuring or anything, but how come?’’
      • ‘She frowned at me, looking disappointed, and he raised a curious eyebrow, asking, silently, ‘how come?’’
      • ‘I told him, ‘If we are not China and we are not Taiwan, then how come?’’
      • ‘He rubbed his palms together ‘Could you explain to us how come?’’
      • ‘Long-lost customers show up saying ‘Wow, heard you were closing, 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.

      • ‘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?’
      • ‘He used to kick off his act with ‘Hello, playmates, how do you do?’’
      • ‘‘There hasn't even been a preliminary ‘Hey, how do you do?’’
  • how many

    • What number.

      ‘how many books did you sell?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We would like to know how many calls does it take to evaluate the n th Fibonacci number if we follow the given recurrence.’
      • ‘It's the strength and size of a drink that determines how many units it has.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Mass is a measure of how much inertia an object displays.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead’
      • ‘How now, a conduit, girl?’
  • how so?

    • How can you show that that is so?

      • ‘"How so?" He asked, clasping his hands together.’
      • ‘No. All I did was approach her casually, and say, ‘Really, how so?’’
      • ‘Her forehead wrinkled in puzzlement, ‘Oh, how so?’’
      • ‘‘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?’’
      • ‘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.’
  • how's that for ——?

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

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

Origin

Old English hū, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch hoe, also to who and what.

Pronunciation

how

/hou//haʊ/

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//haʊ/