Is there any good way to translate "what" when used as an ironic interjection, e.g. "What? He thought that would be a good idea?" said in a sarcastic tone? My first thought is just to use quis or quid but I don't know if that translates perfectly or if there's a better alternative.

First time posting here so apologies if I mess anything up. Also, sorry, I don't know if interjection is the correct term, but I don't know my grammatical terms very well and it seemed the closest to how "what" is used in this context. Thanks!

1 Answer 1


Latin allows the use of "Quid?" in a similar way.

See, for instance, Cicero in the First Cataline Oration:

Quid? cum te Praeneste Kalendis ipsis Novembribus occupaturum nocturno impetu esse confideres, sensistine illam coloniam meo iussu meis praesidiis, custodiis, vigiliis esse munitam?

Translation by Yonge:

What? when you made sure that you would be able to seize Praeneste on the first of November by a nocturnal attack, did you not find that that colony was fortified by my order, by my garrison, by my watchfulness and care?

Also, Plautus, Menaechmi, V.5:

Med. Dic mihi hoc: solent tibi umquam óculi duri fieri?
Men. Quid? tu me lucustam censes esse, homo ignavissime?

My translation:

Med: Tell me this: do your eyes ever get hard?
Men. What? Do you think I'm a locust, you good-for-nothing man?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.