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 answer (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 answer (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 Whatever your answer, have some compassion for the other side. Los Angeles Times, "Today’s Headlines: A new global COVID-19 surge," 26 Apr. 2021 Republicans unveiled a $568 billion infrastructure framework Thursday -- their answer to President Joe Biden's far more expansive $2 trillion package. Allison Pecorin, ABC News, "Republicans unveil $568 billion counteroffer to Biden's infrastructure plan," 22 Apr. 2021 Making good on her answer of yes would require one more separation. New York Times, "He Flew From His Bike, and Later Fell Head Over Heels," 16 Apr. 2021 One obvious answer would be that, in a sense, the incumbents could quite reasonably be blamed for the financial crisis of 2008. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "How the Pandemic Changed Europe," 15 Apr. 2021 One possible answer comes from a new partnership between GBH and the German classical music streaming service IDAGIO, which seeks to bring original classical music performances to listeners’ screens across the globe. Malcolm Gay,, "Gil Shaham kicks off GBH concerts for German classical streaming service," 14 Apr. 2021 Still, when confronted with the question at one of his debates with Trump, Biden dodged in his answer. Nicholas Rowan, Washington Examiner, "Biden court commission members have history of advocating court expansion," 13 Apr. 2021 Most of us would name our favorite singer or actor, but Davidson was coy with his answer. Paulina Jayne Isaac, Glamour, "Pete Davidson Says He’s Dating His ‘Celebrity Crush’ Amid Phoebe Dynevor Romance Rumors," 13 Apr. 2021 One answer is the black suit, an embarrassing oh-so-'90s attempt to make someone who is nothing like Punisher look like Punisher. Darren Franich,, "Whatever Happened to the Men of Tomorrow?," 12 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb These are the types of questions that McAlonan and others hope to answer by studying the offspring of women who contracted Covid-19 during pregnancy. Sara Reardon Reprints, STAT, "Covid-19 gave scientists an opening to better understand how brain disorders arise," 29 Apr. 2021 Other police agencies refused to answer any questions. Ashley Remkus |, al, "10 takeaways from the inquiry into Huntsville’s racial justice protests and arrests," 28 Apr. 2021 For the past decade, one of my companies—180 Communications—has worked with college athletic programs and NFL Draft prep organizations to help top prospects think through how to answer questions about their intangibles. Don Yaeger, Forbes, "More Than Metrics: Here's The Key To NFL Draft Success," 28 Apr. 2021 The man refused to answer, so the woman called the number and it was answered by a woman. cleveland, "Bluetooth technology to blame for possible assault: South Euclid Police Blotter," 27 Apr. 2021 When Kashmir called RepZe, a woman identifying herself as Sofia refused to answer questions and said to email the company instead. New York Times, "The Slander Industry," 24 Apr. 2021 While Carson was never interviewed, other former political appointees eventually agreed to be interviewed without an agency lawyer, but then refused to answer certain questions, the report said. Washington Post, "Investigation suppressed by Trump administration reveals obstacles to hurricane aid for Puerto Rico," 22 Apr. 2021 Scheller also refused to answer when asked if Greenberg had any incriminating evidence against Gaetz. Mike Schneider, Star Tribune, "Gaetz associate working toward plea deal with prosecutors," 8 Apr. 2021 Scheller also refused to answer when asked if Greenberg had any incriminating evidence against Gaetz. Mike Schneider, ajc, "Gaetz associate working toward plea deal with prosecutors," 8 Apr. 2021

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

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Answer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for answer



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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