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 In Elizabeth Bowen’s hands, the answer is: pretty much everything. Cressida Connolly, WSJ, "Five Best: Cressida Connolly on Novels of Disappointment," 23 Oct. 2020 For Akron parents Shane Wynn and Josh Gippin, the answer was easy: an epic road trip across the United States. Susan Glaser, cleveland, "Pandemic-inspired road trip: Akron family swaps house for RV, tours country while working, schooling remotely," 22 Oct. 2020 Experts say the answer is political calculation and hyper-partisanship. Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, "Ex-Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville's race for US Senate seat short on substance," 22 Oct. 2020 The answer is especially worth considering because the same logic that guides your decision will apply to the coronavirus vaccines in coming years. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "Paging Dr. Hamblin: I Don’t See the Upside of a Flu Shot," 21 Oct. 2020 This month, the National Association of Attorneys General suggested that the answer is no. Christopher Elliott Columnist, Washington Post, "Is the government doing enough to protect air travelers?," 21 Oct. 2020 So far, based on all experimental evidence, the answer is in the affirmative. Avi Loeb, Scientific American, "Searching for the Atoms of Life," 20 Oct. 2020 Gratifyingly, for many of the business world's leading female executives, the answer was a resounding yes. Beth Kowitt, Fortune, "Introducing Fortune’s 2020 Most Powerful Women," 19 Oct. 2020 The answer is important, because if two or more participants develop similar illnesses after receiving the vaccine, that's an important red flag that the vaccine could pose safety risks. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, "A week after Covid-19 vaccine trial goes on pause, Johnson & Johnson and FDA won't reveal critical details," 19 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The one-hour seminar includes experts from Medical Mutual and Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging to help answer questions from viewers who were registered. David Petkiewicz, cleveland, "Want to know about Medicare? Watch’s webinar hosted by Terry Pluto," 23 Oct. 2020 Attendees are also required to answer a health questionnaire, wear face masks in the entry lobby and social distance. Jeff Forward, Chron, "Woodlands board restarts in-person meetings," 23 Oct. 2020 The result was a far less chaotic affair than the first debate, with both candidates being able to answer questions in a timely manner, and Welker has been widely praised on social media for her handling of the event. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "'I'm jealous': Chris Wallace says he wishes chaotic first Trump-Biden debate mirrored final one," 22 Oct. 2020 Sean Hannity on Wednesday called on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to answer questions stemming from his son Hunter Biden's overseas business dealings. David Aaro, Fox News, "Purported Hunter Biden laptop linked to FBI money laundering probe," 22 Oct. 2020 To enforce it, the commission will mute each candidate's mic while the other is speaking for two minutes at the beginning of each segment, so that Mr. Trump and Biden each have uninterrupted time to answer. Caroline Linton, CBS News, "How to watch the final presidential debate," 22 Oct. 2020 Trump declined to answer a Newsmax reporter recently when asked if Barr would be kept around for a second term. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump weighs firing FBI director after election as frustration with Wray, Barr grows," 22 Oct. 2020 Each candidates' microphones will be muted as the other gets two minutes to answer a question. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "Trump-Biden debate will feature mute button, rancor, and last chances: 5 things to watch," 22 Oct. 2020 The goal is to use COVID-19 clinical data to answer critical research questions to address the pandemic. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Arches National Park, ski resorts, Amtrak: News from around our 50 states," 20 Oct. 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

26 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Answer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 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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