Is it Rude to Say What?

There’s a lot of confusion these days, on what is right and wrong to say, as well as what’s rude and what isn’t. 

So, what about saying what? Is it rude? Read on below and find out the interesting truth to this question!

Is it Rude to Say What?

Saying what during a conversation, or as a reply to someone’s comment, isn’t exactly the smoothest wording, but it isn’t rude either.

It’s true, there are typically better ways to word things than simply sputtering out a “what” when you didn’t hear, understand, or believe what someone has said to you.

But, the bottom line is that the way you use the word what, including your tone and intention, decides whether it’s rude or acceptable to say it.

How Rude Is it?


On the rude meter’s scale of 1 to 10, saying what rates 5

The primary reason we’ve rated this one right smack in the middle of the rudeness scale is that half the time it’s used in a rude manner, while the other half of the time it’s a perfectly acceptable phrase to say.

So long as you say what with the honest intention of wondering what the person said, or meant by what they’ve said, there is nothing rude about it.

However, when you spout out the word what, in a challenging or sarcastic manner, you are more than likely being rude.

Why is it Rude?

Saying what isn’t always rude, and it isn’t always polite either. Saying what is one of those things that varies in rudeness each time you say it.

The truth is, your intentions when you say what are really what determine how rude or not rude it is.

For example, if someone asks you a question, and you reply with “what?”, you’ve done nothing rude. 

On the other hand, if someone asks you a question, you hear them just fine, but you say “what”, with a slight sneer, you are being rude and you both know it.

Common Questions

Is it disrespectful to say what?

The circumstances of the conversation, as well as your tone of voice, body language, and more determine whether or not saying “what” is rude or not. 

For the most part, when someone says “what”, it’s clear to see in what manner the word was intended.

Is it rude to ask what?

It isn’t typically considered rude to ask someone “what” unless you have clearly heard them, understand what was said, and all parties involved can tell that fact. 

Otherwise, asking someone “what” isn’t rude as it is lazy. 

There’s always a better way to ask for an explanation than merely asking what.

Is saying what mean?

Saying what isn’t necessarily mean, per se, though it certainly can be. 

The fact is that your intentions and true deeper meaning behind your “what” is what makes saying what hostile/mean or not.

There are plenty of times that saying what is polite and proper, if not a bit lazy. 

Likewise, what is used in a mean/hateful manner just as often.