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 That's a modest answer considering only six putouts were made by anyone outside of catcher Moore. Scott Springer, The Enquirer, "New Richmond's latest Flamm starts varsity career with perfect game," 3 Apr. 2021 New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft doesn’t appear to consider Cam Newton as the team’s long-term answer at quarterback. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Patriots owner ‘a big fan’ of backup QB Jarrett Stidham," 3 Apr. 2021 Long answer cometh from Randy Ort of the highway department. Frank Fellone, Arkansas Online, "State home to short highways," 3 Apr. 2021 First introduced at the 1966 Turin Motor Show, the Ghibli was Maserati’s answer to the grand tourers from its Italian contemporaries, Ferrari and Lamborghini. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, "The First Maserati Ghibli 4.9 SS Ever Made Is Now Up for Sale," 2 Apr. 2021 There’s never a definite answer, because compromise is inevitable where relationships are concerned. Jon Freeman, Rolling Stone, "Watch Miranda Lambert’s Acoustic ‘Settling Down’," 2 Apr. 2021 And anyone asking that question also is not really interested in the ramifications of the answer, right? Jesse David Fox And Kathryn Vanarendonk, Vulture, "Do We Really Need Documentaries About ‘Women in Comedy’?," 2 Apr. 2021 The work collected will soon provide an answer to an important question: whether Walz's recent decision to open up vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and up will widen vaccine inequities. Editorial Board, Star Tribune, "Vaccine equity is a life-or-death issue in Minnesota," 2 Apr. 2021 Eurton is hoping a better answer to that question comes on a bigger stage in about four weeks. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, "Bob Baffert once again has a Santa Anita Derby favorite in Medina Spirit," 2 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Trooper Will Flinn, a spokesman for the state patrol, declined to answer questions about how Gottwig-Carr managed to get out of the car, citing the ongoing investigation. oregonlive, "Woman in critical condition after jumping out of moving patrol car on I-5, officials say," 30 Mar. 2021 The teachers union declined to answer questions about its role in communicating school safety parameters. Howard Blume Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "LAUSD goes to great lengths to show schools are safe to reopen. But it’s a tough sell," 29 Mar. 2021 Erin James, office spokeswoman, declined to answer specific questions about Ava’s case, citing privacy laws. Sally Ho And Camille Fassett, Chron, "AP Exclusive: Pandemic means far fewer eyes on kids' welfare," 29 Mar. 2021 The White House declined to answer questions about the passport initiative, instead pointing to public statements that Zients and other officials made this month., "‘Vaccine passports’ are on the way, but developing them won’t be easy," 28 Mar. 2021 The office of Chief Communications Officer Kathy Koch declined to answer specific questions or make anyone available to comment. Scott Travis,, "Summer school is coming back to South Florida," 27 Mar. 2021 The White House declined to answer questions about what the president would be doing with the rest of his afternoon. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "White House calls early 'lid' as pressure grows on Biden over border," 22 Mar. 2021 Mavronis declined to answer questions about whether officials plan further investigation into or action against the church. Christine Condon,, "Baltimore church closed last week for COVID violations holds Sunday services, defying health department orders," 21 Mar. 2021 When asked Friday by IndyStar for details about whether the referees, NCAA officials and the hotel had followed safety protocols during the incident, the NCAA declined to answer specific questions. Alexandria Burris, The Indianapolis Star, "Why did 6 March Madness referees leave Indianapolis COVID bubble? NCAA offers few details," 19 Mar. 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

6 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Answer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 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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