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 Ask a passing Eurocrat what’s up and the answer is prosaic: haggling over the EU’s budget. The Economist, "Charlemagne Make Europe Boring Again!," 13 Feb. 2020 John Bollten, the church’s sole remaining pastor, had asked for questions in advance and gave his prepared answers quickly, several people who were there recall. USA Today, "‘The tongue is a fire’: Southern Baptist church fractures over secrets and spiritual abuse," 13 Feb. 2020 The short answer is that while buybacks are widely lauded as the market's salvation, Corporate America is choosing to repurchase its shares at extremely high prices, so that each buck spent delivers a relatively puny bang. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "3 reasons ballooning stock buybacks are worrisome," 12 Feb. 2020 The answer is, kind of, says Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research. Tim Mullaney, WSJ, "The Case for Energy Stocks," 10 Feb. 2020 The answer, Bloom said, was a need to emphasize the long-term, both by adding young talent to the organization and by improving the team’s financial flexibility — and thus creating more spending options — moving forward. Alex Speier,, "Red Sox say they’re not punting on 2020, but big trade leans on long view," 10 Feb. 2020 My growth and continuing to improve as an archer and bowhunter can be found in the answers to those two questions. Tyler Freel, Outdoor Life, "Shooting in Competitions Will Make You a Better Bowhunter," 6 Feb. 2020 Language English Font Size Small Medium Large Position Auto Bottom Top Sample Caption TextCurrent Time 0:00Duration 0:00Remaining Time -0:00 The answer to the former is yes. Louis Cheslaw, Condé Nast Traveler, "From Protests to the Coronavirus, Here's What Travelers to Hong Kong Need to Know," 30 Jan. 2020 Comprehensive approach The answer is that other methods for teaching reading are also backed by ample evidence. Kindel Turner Nash, The Conversation, "There’s more than one good way to teach kids how to read," 21 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Rice answered with an 11-2 run in the first quarter and never looked back. Brett Vito, Denton Record-Chronicle, "Women's basketball: UNT can't slow Rice's roll," 1 Feb. 2020 After Dawson guard Sarolyn Charles answered with a trey to cut the lead to 18-12 with 3:21 showing, Pearland junior Jasmin Allen countered with a 3-pointer for a 21-12 Lady Oiler edge. Ted Dunnam, Houston Chronicle, "Girls’ basketball: Second-quarter surge sends Pearland past Dawson," 31 Jan. 2020 The researcher, Zhimin Lu, who wasn’t named in the memo, declined to answer questions from the Journal. Kate O’keeffe, WSJ, "China’s Funding of U.S. Researchers Raises Red Flags," 30 Jan. 2020 Lopez also declined to answer questions about the mother or mothers, and said the investigation is ongoing. Anchorage Daily News, "California fisherman’s find leads investigators to alleged serial baby killer," 28 Jan. 2020 Officials at Children's and Child Protective Services declined to answer questions posed by NBC. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Former Children's Wisconsin ER doctor charged with abusing his daughter after fellow doctors raised concerns," 28 Jan. 2020 County spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan said unspecified members of the administration plan to meet with Dykes on Monday morning, but declined to answer questions about whether the administration is considering discipline or termination. Courtney Astolfi, cleveland, "Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish’s administration mum about indicted HR chief paying back money he is accused of stealing," 25 Jan. 2020 In an email to NBC News, Wookey declined to answer detailed questions about the whistleblowers' claims. NBC News, "Whistleblowers say Florida investment firm has inflated value, earnings of its main fund," 23 Jan. 2020 Mills answered with a three-point play, and Harris followed with a close-range shot to push the lead back to 46-41. Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle, "UH bounces back with victory over SMU," 15 Jan. 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

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Answer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 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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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

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