How do you mean?

A: Have you noticed anything strange between her and the president?
B: How do you mean?
A: I passed them in the hall yesterday. And they seem… I don’t know… very intimate.

Question: Is it okay to use “what do you mean” in this situation?
Thank you!!!

Yes. I only use “What do you mean?”

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The person asks, ‘Have you noticed anything strange between her and the president?’
How do you mean? is a way of asking, In what way do you mean? How do you mean ‘strange’? ‘Strange’ in what way? What do you mean by ‘strange’?


They mean the same thing but, to my ear (I’m from the UK), “what do you mean?” is slightly more direct and confrontational.

I’ve never used “How do you mean?”. I gather it’s an American expression. “What do you mean?” for Aussies is perfectly normal; tone of voice changes the nuance.

American here, we would not make any distinction, both are fine.

In American English: ‘How’ is ‘correct,’ but sounds awkward.

‘What’ is colloquial, but sounds correct.

Another way to look at this: ‘What’ asks the question to be defined … and ‘Why’ asks ‘strange’ to be defined better …

Both fine, no explanation necessary.

It is one of the accepted variants of using, don’t worry. There are several of them