\ 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

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Other Words from ask


asker noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for ask

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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 Avoid companies that ask for a large upfront payment. The Salt Lake Tribune, 11 May 2022 Olena Zelenska, the wife of Ukraine's President, came out of hiding, leaving her own children, to visit with me and ask for help for the people of her country. Jill Biden, CNN, 11 May 2022 No vote was taken, but the general consensus was to shorten the leash for taunting and ask for only positive encouragement from the stands. Nate Weitzer,, 11 May 2022 Uh, the attorneys for these two counties are expected to ask for $1 billion over paid out over several years, and that’s already in addition to the $18 million in. Laura Johnston, cleveland, 10 May 2022 Indeed, a county source said Tuesday that the Spurs may come back to commissioners in a year or two and ask for upgrades to the arena that might involve a venue tax that would have to be authorized by the Legislature and then voters. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, 10 May 2022 And people would surely use them to ask for help from the Avengers. Chris Smith, BGR, 9 May 2022 All that said, none of the plus-size people Allure spoke to for this story could name a spa that handled robes exactly right, with extended sizes both readily available (as in, without having to ask for them) and effectively distributed. Dianna Mazzone, Allure, 6 May 2022 Then, make some calls or get involved in a focus group—ask for feedback and listen. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 6 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Of course, expecting one three-hour TV show to reverse the systemic changes of the streaming era is probably an impossible ask. New York Times, 28 Mar. 2022 The question the first six episodes of this fantastic season of television ask is put plainly, but might take the rest of the show to answer. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 18 Apr. 2022 Leaning on a group of undersized bigs to hold up on the heels of major minutes against Cleveland’s size and physicality makes for a tough ask. Xl Media, cleveland, 26 Feb. 2022 The Washington game on Saturday night, which would feature Carlson’s return, or maybe one game removed from his return, is a tough ask at HecEd, but the Huskies are not nearly good enough to cross that off as a Utes loss. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 Jan. 2022 That can be a tough ask for families who don't have the money to temporarily relocate, or friends and family to help. Talis Shelbourne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 14 Dec. 2021 But that may be a tough ask for an administration that is keen not to rock the boat. Washington Post, 13 Oct. 2021 Everyone wants a piece of paradise and many of them are willing to pay full ask or more to get it! Ellen Paris, Forbes, 16 Apr. 2022 His office could not immediately provide an explanation for why the two weren't included in Wednesday's ask. Jay R. Jordan, Chron, 13 Apr. 2022 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.

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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

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 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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