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Pavel 77
"What on Earth is it!" I came across in a film the expression "What on Earth is it ?". Is it used by anyone nowadays ? What is the meaning of that expression in the other words. Thank you in advance.
Jun 5, 2015 10:08 PM
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Answers · 7
If you add 'on earth' to any direct or indirect question, it adds emphasis. It reinforces the idea that the speaker is confused or mystified, or can't imagine what the answer might be. It's quite common, both in colloquial speech and informal written language. For example, if you have no idea at all what something means, you might say: 'What on earth does this mean?'. This phrase has the advantage of showing your confusion and irritation, while avoiding actually swearing. A more vulgar version would be 'What the xxx does that mean?', where 'xxx' is a vulgar word of your choice. This phrase is often used as a kind of word-play for titles, games and slogans. For example, I'd guess that the example you gave - with a capital 'E' for 'earth' - is the name of a geography quiz of some kind.
June 6, 2015
It's just a strong way of saying "What is it?"
June 5, 2015
It is used all of the time when trying to describe an unusual thing or sonmething new or different. It is a perfectly valid expression.
June 5, 2015
Pavel 77
Language Skills
English, Russian
Learning Language
English