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 If the commissioner of the most powerful conference in college sports isn’t getting that answer from the NCAA beforehand, nobody did. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Basketball tournament chaos shows NCAA's fractured relationship with its own," 13 Mar. 2020 Chaos After Colleges Tell Students to Stay Away’ The day after colleges across the country suspended classes over fears of the coronavirus, Abigail Lockhart-Calpito, a freshman from San Antonio, ran across the Harvard campus trying to get answers. Jeremy Engle, New York Times, "What Is Your Reaction to the Latest News About the Coronavirus Outbreak?," 13 Mar. 2020 Matthew Glowicki’s Reader's Watchdog column helps readers get answers and holds public officials, businesses and individuals to account. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, "'If I don’t work, I don’t get paid': Therapist in isolation worries about COVID-19's toll," 13 Mar. 2020 So reporter Hannah Drown will be sitting down with University Hospitals’ Dr. Keith Armitage, who specializes in infectious disease, to get answers. Hannah Drown, cleveland, "Get your coronavirus questions answered by infectious disease doctor from University Hospitals: Video," 12 Mar. 2020 Out of an abundance of caution, the answer should be no. David Grimm, Science | AAAS, "Quarantine the cat? Disinfect the dog? The latest advice about the coronavirus and your pets," 12 Mar. 2020 Unable to get answers, Avital asked a friend, who is a pulmonologist, for help. Maya Miller, ProPublica, "Should I Quarantine Because of Coronavirus? It Depends on Who You Ask.," 11 Mar. 2020 Along the way, fans will hopefully get answers to their most sought-after questions, including why Jamie hates Beth so much. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "'Yellowstone' Season 4: All the Details We Know About the Show's Return," 8 Mar. 2020 The answers, in order, were: badly injured and yes. Bill Dwyre, Los Angeles Times, "Bob and Mike Bryan chasing a few more big wins to cap their prolific careers," 7 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The newsagent was impatient, answering with short sentences, and insistently looking over my shoulder. Luiz Romero, Quartz, "Under lockdown, Italy debates if physical newspapers are essential," 13 Mar. 2020 The first step of the plan is to take a few minutes at the start of a debate to make sure the rules are clear – how the questions will be given, how much time each candidate has to answer, how rebuttals will be handled and the like. Mary Kate Cary, The Conversation, "Lessons on wrangling candidates from the masterful moderator of presidential debates, Jim Lehrer," 12 Mar. 2020 Once the driver answers the call and confirms that the item has been found, both rider and driver can coordinate a mutually convenient time and place for the item to be returned. Sangeeta Tanwar, Quartz India, "Artificial tooth, injections, tricycles: Uber reveals what Indians leave behind in their cabs," 12 Mar. 2020 Attorney General William Barr may have to answer for his handling of the Mueller report release last spring. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for March 6: 2020 Dems, Coronavirus, Mueller, Syria, Afghanistan," 6 Mar. 2020 Women who start drama on The Bachelor always have to answer for their actions at the Women Tell All, and that's exactly what Tammy Ly will be doing on Monday. Martha Sorren,, "Tammy Was Destined To Have A Rough Bachelor: Women Tell All," 2 Mar. 2020 Ethiopians from every tribe, culture and community answered Menelik’s call. Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes, Quartz Africa, "124 years ago, Ethiopian men and women defeated the Italian army in the Battle of Adwa," 2 Mar. 2020 This awards season has answered the men and jewelry question definitively, and, as T&C pointed out in its , that answer is unequivocally yes. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "Timothée Chalamet Wore a Vintage Cartier Brooch to the Academy Awards," 10 Feb. 2020 Until Friday, when head coach Juwan Howard met with reporters to preview the upcoming Michigan State game and had to answer questions about Simpson’s accident and suspension. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan basketball's silence on Zavier Simpson sends the wrong message," 8 Feb. 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

16 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Answer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Mar. 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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