1

In 1953 film the wild one, there is a line:

Question: What are you rebelling against?

Answer: what have you got?

I don't understand the meaning of the answer.

  • 2
    He asks "What have you got?" meaning "What have you got for me to rebel against?" Implicitly, he's saying that he rebels against all and everything that the original speaker could list. – GoldenGremlin Jan 27 '16 at 1:27
  • 1
    I guess it's something like "try me, I could rebel against anything"? – Fausto NA Jan 27 '16 at 1:27
  • 1
    More context is needed, but one meaning for that would be—"Name me anything, and I'm probably rebelling against it." – ralph.m Jan 27 '16 at 1:28
  • 1
    Related: How widely accepted is "What do you got?" to Americans? In The Wild One, by the way, Johnny does not use the word have in his famous line. – Sven Yargs Jan 27 '16 at 6:47
  • @SvenYargs, "What do you got"? – Aki Jan 28 '16 at 3:01
4

"What have you got?" means "What are my options?" The same as if you walked into a diner and wanted to know what's on the menu.

  • 2
    Whilst correct generally, this is the wrong interpretation in the context of the film. Silenus' comment has it right. – peterG Jan 27 '16 at 2:18
  • 1
    @peterG - Why do you say that? The idiomatic meaning is "What are my options?" In the context of the movie's question this would mean "What are the things I might rebel against." Most native American English speakers would have immediately comprehended the idiomatic meaning and how it applied in this situation. – Hot Licks Jan 27 '16 at 2:30
  • 1
    On reflection, not exactly a wrong interpretation, but I think your answer conveys the wrong shade of meaning - it's too passive. Although the original phrase is configured as a question, its meaning is not interrogative, it's more akin to an exclamation - "Everything!" It's not really the same as walking into a diner. – peterG Jan 27 '16 at 2:37
  • @peterG - But it's referencing that idiom. – Hot Licks Jan 27 '16 at 2:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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