an·​swer | \ ˈan(t)-sər How to pronounce answer (audio) \

Definition of answer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : something spoken or written in reply to a question His answer surprised us.
b : a correct response knows the answer
2 : a reply to a legal charge or suit : plea also : defense
3 : something done in response or reaction His only answer was to walk out.
4 : a solution of a problem More money is not the answer.
5 : one that imitates, matches, or corresponds to another The show is television's answer to the newsmagazines.


answered; answering\ ˈan(t)s-​riŋ How to pronounce answering (audio) , ˈan(t)-​sə-​ \

Definition of answer (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to speak or write in reply think carefully before answering
2a : to be or make oneself responsible or accountable answer for a debt
b : to make amends : atone He must answer for his crimes.
3 : to be in conformity or correspondence She answered to the description.
4 : to act in response to an action performed elsewhere or by another The home team scored first but the visitors answered quickly.
5 : to be adequate : serve an old bucket answered for a sink The school had to answer for a town hall.

transitive verb

1a : to speak or write in reply to answer a question answer me
b : to say or write by way of reply answer yes or no
2 : to reply to in rebuttal, justification, or explanation answer an accusation
3a : to correspond to answers the description
b : to be adequate or usable for : fulfill answer a need
4 : to act in response to answered the call to arms
5 : to offer a solution for especially : solve answer a riddle
6 obsolete : to atone for

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Other Words from answer


answerer \ ˈan(t)-​sər-​ər How to pronounce answerer (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for answer

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for answer


answer, response, reply, rejoinder, retort mean something spoken, written, or done in return. answer implies the satisfying of a question, demand, call, or need. had answers to all their questions response may imply a quick or spontaneous reaction to a person or thing that serves as a stimulus. a response to the call for recruits reply often suggests a thorough response to all issues, points, or questions raised. a point-by-point reply to the accusation rejoinder can be a response to a reply or to an objection. a salesman with a quick rejoinder to every argument retort implies a reaction to an implicit or explicit charge, criticism, or attack which contains a countercharge or counterattack. she made a cutting retort to her critics

Examples of answer in a Sentence

Noun I asked him a simple question and he gave me a long and confusing answer. I didn't believe her answer. They wouldn't give me a straight answer to my question. I didn't know the right answer. That is the wrong answer. Do you know the answer to this question? He knew the answers to only 3 of the 10 questions. The answers are listed in the back of the book. Verb She answered all my questions. He answered only three of the test questions correctly. When the police asked him his name, he refused to answer. When I ask you a question I expect you to answer me! Answer me this: where have you put my money? I sent her a letter asking for her help, but she never answered. The phone rang repeatedly, but no one answered. Would somebody please answer the phone? I knocked on the door but no one answered. No one answered the door.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun More: As gun violence escalates in Detroit, are federal agents the answer? Darcie Moran, Detroit Free Press, "Man fatally shot by police after pursuing, injuring officer with thrown dagger, police say," 31 July 2020 He's developed a nice little turnaround jumper as an answer to defenses walling off the rim. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "National writers weigh in with predictions on how the NBA season will unfold from here," 31 July 2020 Trump’s answer was a diversion straight out of a ’70s sitcom, one he's used before. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, "This must-watch 'Axios on HBO' interview with Trump picks up where Chris Wallace left off," 31 July 2020 That is a good question, and unfortunately there is not a clear answer. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, "Those mystery seeds from China? Might be part of a Amazon review scam," 31 July 2020 Kentucky’s head of contact tracing, Mark Carter, said anecdotal evidence suggests about 70% answer the phone when the health department calls and agree to follow advice, but so far no data has been collected. Chris Kenning, The Courier-Journal, "Once seemingly insulated, Kentucky's Appalachian counties scramble to stop COVID-19 outbreak," 31 July 2020 But once the samples have returned, the true quest to understand if life once existed on Mars could finally have an answer. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Mars launch: NASA's Perseverance rover set for takeoff," 30 July 2020 Well, the question of the summer has an answer -- at least the first draft of one. Michael Casagrande |, al, "What new SEC schedule means for Alabama, questions that remain," 30 July 2020 The answer could involve tearing the public-health data system down and building it again from scratch. Maryn Mckenna, Wired, "Covid-19 Data in the US Is an ‘Information Catastrophe’," 30 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Cristobal has to answer all these and a lot more questions for his players, coaches, support staff, parents and recruits. oregonlive, "Oregon MVP 10: Mario Cristobal is No. 1," 31 July 2020 The study is part of a wave of research using big data to answer long standing economic questions. Dan Kopf, Quartz, "A break in the $600 unemployment benefit is especially grave for Black people," 31 July 2020 That friend was recently forced to answer questions to determine whether Avenatti had violated those terms including impermissible use of internet-capable devices. Fox News, "Michael Avenatti gets taxpayer-funded lawyer after judge agrees he's broke," 30 July 2020 The foundation declined to answer questions about its system but said it had been checked against five years of past results and that disappointed students could use its existing appeals process, which comes with a fee. Tom Simonite, Wired, "An Algorithm Set Students’ Grades—and Altered Their Futures," 10 July 2020 The study, which will run through November 2021, will help answer such important questions as: How long might immunity last? Anna Kuchment, Dallas News, "Exclusive: Researchers are launching a massive study to tell us how prevalent COVID-19 is in North Texas," 10 July 2020 Every business leader will soon have to answer them, even if only part of their workforce returns to the office. Brian Kardon, Fortune, "The case for going all-in on remote work," 5 July 2020 In facing McConnell, McGrath will have to answer to the movement that brought Booker — a relative underdog — so close to her in the race, and so primed to actually beat McConnell. Elly Belle,, "Amy McGrath’s Victory Shows The Power Of Establishment Cash," 30 June 2020 Somebody still has to answer for what happened to Breonna, though. CBS News, ""If you don't vote, you don't have a voice": Tina Knowles-Lawson and Breonna Taylor's mother on fighting systemic racism," 24 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'answer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of answer


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for answer

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English andswaru (akin to Old Norse andsvar answer); akin to Old English and- against, swerian to swear — more at ante-

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Time Traveler for answer

Time Traveler

The first known use of answer was before the 12th century

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Statistics for answer

Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Answer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for answer


How to pronounce answer (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of answer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something you say or write when someone asks you a question
: a response to a question that is meant to show whether or not you know something (such as a question asked as part of an exam)
: the correct response to a question



English Language Learners Definition of answer (Entry 2 of 2)

: to say or write something when someone asks you a question : to give an answer to (a question)
: to say or write (something) as a reply
: to reply to (someone) : to say or write something as a response to (someone)


an·​swer | \ ˈan-sər How to pronounce answer (audio) \

Kids Definition of answer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something said or written in reply (as to a question)
2 : a solution of a problem Money is not the answer to improving this situation.


answered; answering

Kids Definition of answer (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to speak or write in order to satisfy a question
2 : to write a response to a letter or e-mail
3 : to pick up (a ringing telephone)
4 : to open (a door) when someone knocks on it
5 : to react to something with an action answer a want ad
6 : to take responsibility The camp director answered for the children's safety.
answer back
: to reply rudely



Legal Definition of answer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the defendant's written response to the plaintiff's complaint in a civil suit in which he or she may deny any of the plaintiff's allegations, offer any defenses, and make any counterclaims against the plaintiff, cross-claims against other defendants, or third-party claims against third parties otherwise not involved in the lawsuit
2 : a written response to a counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim : reply — see also responsive pleading at pleading sense 1

Note: In federal cases, answers are governed by Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Under Rule 12, certain defenses (as lack of jurisdiction) may be made by motion rather than included in the answer.

Legal Definition of answer (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to serve or file an answer
2 : to make oneself responsible or accountable (as for the debt of another)

transitive verb

1 : to reply to in an answer answer the complaint
2 : to make a defense against (as a charge or accusation)

Other Words from answer

answerable adjective

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for answer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with answer

Spanish Central: Translation of answer

Nglish: Translation of answer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of answer for Arabic Speakers

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