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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But having answers, even fleeting ones, has allayed some of my concerns for now. Alexander Spinelli, STAT, "Recovery from Covid-19 is filled with uncertainty. An antibody test offered me a little comfort," 21 May 2020 The resoundingly negative answers streamed forth, generating 1,700 comments and providing a window into brewing resistance to a potential coronavirus vaccine that experts say offers the surest path back to normal life. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump’s promise of ‘Warp Speed’ vaccine development fuels anti-vax movement online," 21 May 2020 For those still waiting or with other questions, here are a few answers: Where is my payment? CBS News, "Where's my stimulus check? Answers to common payment questions," 21 May 2020 Schmidt’s discovery was an answer, and, in the past century, no one has successfully challenged it; that European eels come from the Sargasso Sea remains the official word of science. Brooke Jarvis, The New Yorker, "Where Do Eels Come From?," 18 May 2020 Here are some answers: What cleaning products are used? Angus Whitley,, "Airlines Send in World’s Strongest Disinfectants to Fight Virus," 10 May 2020 As with much of nutrition, the answer is not a clear yes or no. Rahel Mathews, The Conversation, "Is seltzer water healthy?," 7 May 2020 Dozens of clinical trials with control groups are now underway worldwide to suss out these answers. National Geographic, "A one-two punch to fight COVID-19," 7 May 2020 This sleeping bag, marketed as a sleeping bed, may be your answer. Outdoor Life, "The best sleeping bags to keep you warm and cozy," 4 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The city’s call center staff will be on hand to answer the phone from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Rich Heileman, cleveland, "Internet movies bring drive-ins to mind: Around The Town," 8 May 2020 In late March, as states rushed to close schools, the ASCA tried to host a pair of webinars to answer those questions. Neal Morton, azcentral, "Outnumbered school counselors struggle to keep kids safe remotely," 8 May 2020 On Friday, Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts will host a conference call with players to answer any questions about reopening facilities, the source confirmed. Omari Sankofa Ii, Detroit Free Press, "As NBA opens facilities, Detroit Pistons remain in limbo: 'It's a waiting game'," 8 May 2020 Health Ministry officials, who initially agreed to an interview for this article, canceled and declined to answer questions. Abdi Latif Dahir, New York Times, "Kenyans Held for Weeks in Quarantine Were Told to Pay to Get Out," 8 May 2020 Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also joined the event to answer questions. Carly Ortiz-lytle, Washington Examiner, "Trump's Lincoln Memorial town hall beats CNN and MSNBC ratings combined," 5 May 2020 The agency has always had to answer for its contractors’ actions, including their mistakes, whether those involve a flawed mirror on the Hubble space telescope or a deadly shuttle disaster. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "NASA’s Moonshot Can’t Stop Tweeting About the Coronavirus," 1 May 2020 The White House has long made the case that the briefings are less important in the Trump administration because the president is so accessible, answering reporters’ questions on an often-daily basis. Time, "'I Will Never Lie to You,' Says New Press Secretary as White House Holds First Press Briefing in Over a Year," 1 May 2020 The State Department declined to answer questions about Pompeo’s role. Mark Mazzetti,, "Trump officials are said to press spies to link Virus and Wuhan labs," 30 Apr. 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.

See More

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-

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about answer

Time Traveler for answer

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for answer

Last Updated

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Answer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on answer

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

Comments on answer

What made you want to look up answer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!