\ ˈask How to pronounce ask (audio) , ˈäsk How to pronounce ask (audio) ; dialectal ˈaks \
asked\ ˈas(k)t How to pronounce ask (audio) , ˈäs(k)t , ˈask ; dialectal  ˈakst \; asking

Definition of ask

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to call on for an answer She asked him about his trip.
b : to put a question about asking her opinion
c : speak, utter ask a question
2a : to make a request of She asked her teacher for help.
b : to make a request for She asked help from her teacher.
3 : to call for : require a challenge that will ask much of us
4 : to set as a price asked $3000 for the car
5 : invite She asked a few friends to the party.

intransitive verb

1 : to seek information ask for her address
2 : to make a request asked for food
ask for it
: to behave in a way that invites punishment or retribution Experts used to think that battered women were "asking for it"—somehow masochistically provoking abuse from their men. Mercifully, that idea has now been discredited.— Michele Ingrassia
ask for trouble
: to behave in a way that is likely to result in trouble … you are asking for trouble if you try to lift too much weight …— Douglas Jeffrey



Definition of ask (Entry 2 of 2)

chiefly British, informal
: something asked for, requested, or required of someone used especially in phrases like a big ask and a tough ask to say that what is being asked for or hoped for is difficult or unlikely It's a big ask, I think, demanding audiences recall a plot from two years ago, and while normally I don't mind a big ask … this particular ask utterly defeated me.— Deborah Ross

Other Words from ask


asker noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for ask

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for ask


ask, question, interrogate, query, inquire mean to address a person in order to gain information. ask implies no more than the putting of a question. ask for directions question usually suggests the asking of series of questions. questioned them about every detail of the trip interrogate suggests formal or official systematic questioning. the prosecutor interrogated the witness all day query implies a desire for authoritative information or confirmation. queried a librarian about the book inquire implies a searching for facts or for truth often specifically by asking questions. began to inquire of friends and teachers what career she should pursue

ask, request, solicit mean to seek to obtain by making one's wants known. ask implies no more than the statement of the desire. ask a favor of a friend request implies greater formality and courtesy. requests the pleasure of your company solicit suggests a calling attention to one's wants or desires by public announcement or advertisement. a letter soliciting information

Examples of ask in a Sentence

Verb I need to ask a question. Did you ask her yet? “Have you seen the movie yet?” he asked. a list of frequently asked questions “If you don't mind me asking, how old are you?” “I'm 35 years old. Why do you ask?” “Do they have any soda?” “I don't know. I'll go ask.” I would have given it to him, but he never asked. We had to stop and ask directions. May I ask the time? Did you ask permission to leave? See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Now sober for more than a year, Sam’s parents ask for her help. Sun Sentinel, 16 June 2022 Be sure to ask the right questions, and give your IT person some training on how to think like you. Will Foret, Forbes, 16 June 2022 The same day Trump pressured Pence and Jacob in the Oval Office, Pence’s personal lawyer, Richard Cullen, called Luttig to ask about Eastman. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, 16 June 2022 The company would first ask for a voluntary reduction of power from consumers, Morris said, and would work to buy power from neighboring providers such as LG&E and KU to make up any potential shortages. Thomas Birmingham, The Courier-Journal, 16 June 2022 Both Perakslis and Tecco recommend that users of period-tracking apps ask the companies for better. Katherine Yao And Megan L. Ranney, CNN, 16 June 2022 While notification letters on the recall are not expected to be mailed until June 27, concerned vehicle owners can call Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332 and ask for details on the ford recall designated 22S43. Hunter Boyce, ajc, 15 June 2022 Sarah Long, Stayne’s aunt, said that three community health representatives visited to ask if anyone had health problems and needed to be evacuated, but the representatives didn’t get out of the car. Melina Walling, The Arizona Republic, 15 June 2022 Police ask anyone with information to contact Detective Jared Sherman at (401) 340-8920 or Detective Sgt. Globe Staff,, 8 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The latest ask, which does not include money from the city’s general fund, comes 2.5 years after the council approved a $52.3 million budget for the park. Jennifer Van Grove, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 May 2022 That’s not an easy ask as the world emerges from the economic shock of the pandemic. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, 13 Apr. 2022 The bigger the ask, the bigger the prize needs to be. George Bradt, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 Ukrainian officials are now laser-focused on a new, more attainable ask: more weapons from the U.S. and other Western allies with which to launch attacks on Russian positions. Jimmy Quinn, National Review, 25 Mar. 2022 While there’s no private elevator to the home—a tough ask in a building that dates to 1900—there is an elevator. Janice O'leary, Robb Report, 12 Feb. 2022 However, when the owners of the vehicle –brothers and hunters Nathan (Joris Jarsky) and Samuel (Jefferson White), rudely dismiss her firm but polite ask, something shifts within Sandra. Aramide Tinubu, Essence, 28 Jan. 2022 Obviously, that’s a tough ask on Christmas day but that’s the nature of the business. Geoff Clark, USA TODAY, 25 Dec. 2021 But there is another ask from many developing countries: to be compensated for the damage the crisis has already wreaked in the form of climate reparations. Angela Dewan, CNN, 8 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ask.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of ask


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ask


Middle English, from Old English āscian; akin to Old High German eiscōn to ask, Lithuanian ieškoti to seek, Sanskrit icchati he seeks


noun derivative of ask entry 1

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Time Traveler for ask

Time Traveler

The first known use of ask was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near ask

as it is



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Last Updated

19 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for ask


\ ˈask How to pronounce ask (audio) \
asked; asking

Kids Definition of ask

1 : to seek information by posing a question She asked if I was worried. They asked about our trip.
2 : to make a request Did you ask for help?
3 : to set as a price I'm asking ten dollars for my skates.
4 : invite sense 2 I asked some friends to my party.
5 : to behave as if seeking a result You're asking for trouble.

More from Merriam-Webster on ask

Nglish: Translation of ask for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ask for Arabic Speakers


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