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Stumbled across this on a photography forum.

All the bells, dials and whistles on this one. I handled her once. Nice! But surprisingly heavy. The impression of weight (and a lasting impression of value.. what a make!) was increased by its relatively compact size.

Am I getting it right that "what a make" here might mean something like, what a great composition of the impression of weight and the lasting impression of value?

I did a quick google research and found absolutely nothing in the Internet on this usage of the word. And it's definitely not "what make is it?" sort of a thing.

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    It's a job to say without a more complete context, but I assume he's expressing admiration for the make = brand of camera (a Nikon? Leica?). – FumbleFingers Mar 26 '15 at 0:07
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The phrase "What a X!" is usually used to express that X is really great, or that X epitomizes the definition of X (e.g. "What a nice car!", to express appreciation of a well-made vehicle, or "What a dick!", to express frustration with a person not currently present).

"Make" here refers to the make of camera (the most frequent use of this sense of the word "make" in English is in describing the "make" of a car; usually summed up by simply giving the name of the brand: Ford, Saturn, Toyota, etc.).

So, in this case, the person is saying "This is a really nice variety of camera!". It's an exclamation of pleasant surprise.

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  • @FumbleFingers "What a ___" is a general-purpose phrasal template. Granted, it's short, but I don't see how the term "snowclone" is inapplicable. It takes a parameter, it's used the same way every time. – Parthian Shot Mar 26 '15 at 0:11
  • And while we are being incredibly technical, "make" is the brand or marque, not a company. Your own example was "Saturn", not a company, just a brand of General Motors Corporation (there was also a GM division named Saturn that manufactured cars branded Saturn, but a car's make is its brand not the division or the company, if they are different). This distinction is more important with cars than with cameras, but there were Polaroid cameras being made long after Polaroid Corporation gave up on making anything. – Malvolio Mar 26 '15 at 0:36
  • @StoneyB The wikipedia page misled me. Fixing that error. – Parthian Shot Mar 26 '15 at 0:42
  • @Malvolio And, although it's never come up as an issue when I've used the phrase, I'll take your word for it and amend my statement. – Parthian Shot Mar 26 '15 at 0:43
  • @LittleEva You would mean "What is the brand name of the manufacturer of your car?". And I would respond "Dodge". If you asked "What is the model of your car?" I would respond "Stratus". – Parthian Shot Mar 26 '15 at 6:01
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We don't really say "What a make!" for something we admire. Instead (in North America) we say "What a beaut!" if we are lucky enough to see a beautiful something or person.

It is better to express your admiration by naming the article.

After seeing great resolution in a photograph you may say to the owner of the camera, "What a great camera!" etc.

These sentences start with a question word but they are really interjections.

This formula is used more often to be negative about things and people. Look at these examples:

"What a fake!" "What a piece of work!" "What a piece of junk!"

Feel free to say the last one outloud if your car is in the habit of refusing to take you further to your destination!

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