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

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to seek information
ask for her address
: to make a request
asked for food
asker noun


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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
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
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
When she’s asked about the lack of female producers in music, Marks has some theories. Mesfin Fekadu, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Dec. 2023 DeSantis, according to a Newsom aide, also had a teleprompter that showed questions Hannity would be asking. Aaron Navarro, CBS News, 1 Dec. 2023 The reality of the day began to set in once Keller was on a train back to his hotel -- when a father and son sat near him and the son asked the Olympian for a photograph with him, prosecutors said. Alexander Mallin, ABC News, 1 Dec. 2023 The private dispute exploded with public headlines earlier this month after Hall asked a judge to step in on Nov. 16 and issue a temporary restraining order halting the sale. Nancy Dillon, Rolling Stone, 30 Nov. 2023 The media legal advocacy organization has also asked a federal court in Pennsylvania to unseal the FBI affidavit used to justify seizing Perry’s phone. Devlin Barrett, Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2023 But when asked about those reasons, participants did not score them very highly at all. Christian B. Miller, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 When asked about this, the Israel Prison Service did not respond. David Noriega, NBC News, 30 Nov. 2023 Local people asked me to make something to encourage young people. Simon Abrams, The New Yorker, 19 Nov. 2023
The ask, at its core, is coming from a place of having to build up the confidence to do this work. Juan A. Ramírez, New York Times, 20 Nov. 2023 The ask came on top of more than $15 billion in federal aid doled out to live entertainment venues in 2021. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2023 Admittedly, this is a tough ask, given that Black entrepreneurs receive less than 2 percent of venture capital dollars every year. WIRED, 16 Nov. 2023 The more specific the ask, the more precise the results. Cheryl Robinson, Forbes, 12 Nov. 2023 But Allen knows that hosting Thanksgiving will be a bigger ask than cooking himself meals on a daily basis. Natasha Dye, Peoplemag, 3 Nov. 2023 No, a hiking partner who shares your enthusiasm for fine dining is not an impossible ask. Steph Koyfman, Condé Nast Traveler, 27 Oct. 2023 With road games at USC and Oregon State and a potential rematch with Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game, that’s too big of an ask. J. Brady McCollough, Los Angeles Times, 24 Oct. 2023 Of course, with the ongoing actors’ strike, that’s a big ask. Andrew Unterberger, Billboard, 10 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ask.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


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


13th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near ask

Cite this Entry

“Ask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to seek information : inquire
asked about our trip
: to make a request
ask for help
: to make a request to
ask your teacher to help you
: to set as a price : demand
asked $20 for the bicycle
: invite entry 1 sense 2a
asked friends to a party
: to behave as if looking
asking for trouble
asker noun

More from Merriam-Webster on ask

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