What Does He Know: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
December 17, 2023

The phrase "What does he know?" often pops up when someone questions another person's expertise or credibility. It's like asking, "Is this person really the one to talk about this?" or "How much does this person know?" Usually, this is said when someone questions or doubts what another person is saying. It can be a genuine question about someone's qualifications or a more sarcastic remark.

In short:

  • It is a question asking about someone's expertise or qualifications.
  • It can be said seriously or used to throw shade at someone's credibility.

What Does "What Does He Know" Mean?

The phrase "what does he know" is often used to probe someone's knowledge on a particular subject. It's like a litmus test to figure out if someone is worth listening to.

Let's dig into its main meanings and how it's used:

  • The question asks about the level of expertise or knowledge someone has.
  • It can be used in a questioning tone to find out someone's skill level.
  • People also use it sarcastically to doubt what someone is saying.
  • It can be a way to question someone's authority or expertise in both personal and professional settings.
  • Similar phrases might include "What's his angle?" or "Why should we listen to him?"

Where Does "What Does He Know" Come From?

The expression "what does he know" is straightforward and not tied to any particular time or place. It's more of a natural question when people are skeptical of someone's authority or knowledge. It's been around for as long as people have questioned authority and expertise.

Historical Example

"What does he know even of himself, as to his invifible part? What of his future manner of exiftence?"

- A Plain Account of Genuine Christianity by John Wesley, 1761

10 Examples of "What Does He Know" in Sentences

To help you get a better grasp of how this phrase is used, let's look at some examples in different situations:

  • The manager muttered, "What does he know?"
  • He reminds you of someone, but what does he know?
  • When the actor talked about politics, people questioned, "What does he know about government?"
  • He's wrong. That expensive mascara will brighten up your day. What does he know about makeup?
  • When he said the team would lose, fans asked, "What does he know about sports?"
  • "He says he can fix it, but what does he know about cars?" she wondered aloud.
  • What does he know? What does he want to discuss with you in such detail?
  • She said that he claimed to be an expert chef. Her friend asked, "What does he know about cooking?"
  • What does he know about the situation if he throws a fit?
  • Shame on you,” she said, “What does he know about our private matters?”

Examples of "What Does He Know" in Pop Culture

The question "What does he know?" is common in movies, TV shows, and books where someone's expertise or authority is being questioned or doubted.

Here are some examples:

  • Donald Trump was quoted saying: "...let’s make him Transportation Secretary. What does he know about it? Nothing. His failure, after failure, after failure, truly affecting the American people."
  • One Direction's song "Does He Know?" talks about a love interest and questions what she has revealed to her current partner.
  • A quote from Leah Stewart's 2018 book What You Don't Know About Charlie Outlaw: "What does he know of metal or its fragilities? And if he did get loose? The door is locked."
  • Another quote from the book Betrayal in Black by Mark M. Bello: "What does he know about being black in America? What does he know about being pulled over for driving while black?"

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "What Does He Know"

The question "What does he know?" has other ways of being expressed depending on the context and the point you want to make.

Here are some other ways to say it:

  • Is he an expert?
  • How much does he really know?
  • Does he know what he's talking about?
  • Is he qualified to say that?
  • What's his expertise?
  • Is he the one to ask?
  • Can we trust his opinion?
  • Is he credible?
  • What's his background?
  • How knowledgeable is he?

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "What Does He Know":

  • What does "What does he know" mean?

"What does he know" is a question that can be used to either inquire about someone's level of expertise or to cast doubt on their credibility. Depending on the context, it can be either literal or figurative.

  • How can I use "What does he know" in a sentence?

You can use this phrase in questions to talk about someone’s knowledge or expertise in a particular area. For example: “What does he know about football?” Or you can use it to express skepticism: “He says we should invest in that company, but what does he know?”

  • Is the phrase more common in specific settings?

While the phrase "What does he know" can be used in various settings, it's often heard in discussions where expertise or authority is in question. It could be in a professional meeting, a casual conversation, or even while watching the news.

  • What are the tones in which this phrase can be used?

The phrase can be used in both serious and sarcastic tones. In a serious tone, it's genuinely asking about someone's knowledge. In a sarcastic or dismissive tone, it's questioning the credibility of the person in question.

  • Is the phrase used globally, or is it culture-specific?

The phrase "What does he know" is widely understood in English-speaking countries and is not restricted to any specific culture.

  • Is it considered rude?

Depending on the tone and context, the phrase can come across as rude or dismissive. If you're genuinely asking about someone's expertise, it's not rude. But if you're using it to demean someone, it could be considered disrespectful.

  • Can it be used humorously?

Yes, the phrase can be used in a humorous way to lighten the mood, especially when the topic being discussed is not too serious or sensitive.

No, the phrase "What does he know" can be adapted to refer to any gender, like "What does she know" or "What do they know." It's not restricted to males.

  • Can it be used in both formal and informal settings?

Yes, while the phrase is more commonly used in casual conversations, it can also appear in formal settings when questioning someone's expertise or credibility.

  • Is it ever used in legal or academic contexts?

It can be used in legal or academic contexts but is usually phrased more formally, often as a part of a larger question or statement that aims to scrutinize someone’s qualifications or credibility.

Final Thoughts About "What Does He Know"

The question "What does he know?" serves dual roles. It either probes the expertise of someone or, on the flip side, undermines their credibility. Whether asking a legitimate question or throwing a little shade, it's a versatile tool in your conversational arsenal.

Here's a quick recap:

  • The phrase can be used literally and figuratively to discuss someone’s level of expertise or question their credibility.
  • It is versatile enough to fit into both formal and informal conversations.
  • Understanding the phrase's multiple uses can help you navigate social situations more effectively, knowing when you're being asked for credentials or when you might be getting a dig.

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