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

catechize, grill, inquire (of), interrogate, query, question, quiz

Antonyms: Verb

answer, reply, respond

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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


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?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The village, which asked people to avoid the area Friday morning, said in a Facebook post that no injuries had been reported. Emily K. Coleman, Lake County News-Sun, "Gurnee police report suspect in custody after barricade situation," 7 June 2019 In Normandy, shortly before Trump delivered his remarks, Fox News’s Laura Ingraham asked him about the prospect of Mueller testifying before Congress. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Debate About the Best Way to Get Donald Trump Out of Office," 6 June 2019 In addition to donating $2 from every Artist Nude Creme sale, MUFE also asked youth members of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, the nation's longest-running LGBTQ+ youth service organization, to participate and model in the campaign. Devon Abelman, Allure, "What Makeup Means to the Young LGBTQ+ Models of Make Up For Ever’s New Campaign," 6 June 2019 No word yet on where Swift's headed next on her press tour—but hopefully this is the last sexist question she's asked. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Taylor Swift Expertly Shut Down an Interviewer for Asking a Sexist Question," 24 May 2019 Not everything went according to plan, however, as CIMON had a bit of an emotional breakdown when it was asked to stop playing the German electronic band Kraftwerk. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Meet the New Flying Robots That NASA Is Sending Into Space," 21 May 2019 While at the event this morning to unveil the new garden, Kate was asked to share a memory for her own youth—and royal watchers got some insight into the Duchess's personal experiences in the great outdoors. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton Shares a Sweet Childhood Memory at the Chelsea Flower Show," 20 May 2019 The better news: She's asked you to be her maid of honor, cementing your status as BFF. Country Living, "How to Write the Best Maid of Honor Speech," 16 May 2019 Mercedes says the question of how to safely source psychedelics is the most common one she’s asked in her work with the Third Wave. Allure, "Your Guide to Microdosing for Anxiety and Depression," 19 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This is an unreasonable ask, even for the most committed mentors. Prasanna Krishnamoorthy, Quartz India, "What startup mentors can learn from family doctors," 31 May 2019 And with so much of our lives now documented on social media, a regular ask might not seem sufficient. Marris Adikwu, Glamour, ""Will You Be My...Godparent?" How a Religious Rite of Passage Swept Social Media," 2 Apr. 2019 Seven wins on clay is too big an ask, but a strong showing in Paris will propel her on the grass. 10. Jon Wertheim,, "French Open 2018 Seed Reports," 24 May 2018 Taking out the Steelers in the opener or the NFC South champion Saints on the road in Week 2 would be tough asks. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "Cleveland Browns' 2018 NFL schedule: When will they break losing streak?," 19 Apr. 2018 From Mars rovers to undersea explorers, robotic arms are generally focused on the utilitarian ask of grabbing. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "This Soft Robotic Arm Is Built To Study the Ocean's Most Delicate Creatures," 3 Oct. 2018 Another item on your agenda in the months leading up to the big ask? Macaela Mackenzie, Marie Claire, "5 Things You Must Do Before Asking for a Raise," 6 Dec. 2018 Replacing Josh Adams and his 3,201 career rushing yards is a tough ask. Laken Litman, Indianapolis Star, "Best- and worst-case scenarios for Notre Dame football in 2018," 2 July 2018 Yes, this is a big ask, especially for anyone who hasn’t ripped apart a computer before. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "How to Recover Your Data from a Dead Hard Drive," 17 Jan. 2019

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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Statistics for ask

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for ask

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

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More Definitions for ask



English Language Learners Definition of ask

: to say or write something to someone as a way of gaining information : to request an answer to a question
: to tell someone in the form of a question that you want to be given something or that you want something to happen : to request something
: to invite (someone) to go somewhere or do something


\ 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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ask

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ask

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ask

Spanish Central: Translation of ask

Nglish: Translation of ask for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ask for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ask

What made you want to look up ask? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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