WHATIS stands for 'World-wide Host-based Acronym Translation Information System.'

It used to be a database on the PROFS (OfficeVision/VM) system that all IBMers used before somebody forced them all to use Lotus Notes.

WHATIS is now Web-based rather than Host-based, but the acronym has not changed, unless you want to call it 'Web-hosted Acronym Translation Information System.'

A nifty Unix command that gives you a short description of a given system command. From the man page of GNU whatis:

       whatis - search the whatis database for complete words.

       whatis keyword ...

       whatis  searches  a set of database files containing short
       descriptions of system commands for keywords and  displays
       the  result  on  the  standard output.  Only complete word
       matches are displayed.

       The  whatis  database  is  created   using   the   command

       apropos(1), man(1).

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