\ ˈask How to pronounce ask (audio) , ˈäsk How to pronounce ask (audio) ; 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 unlikelyIt'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?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Across the Capitol, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made no moves to acquire tests or ask senators to be tested. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, "Lawmakers debate whether to test for coronavirus in the Capitol," 1 Aug. 2020 Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced in 2018 that the census would ask about citizenship status, sparking multiple lawsuits. Washington Post, "Census Bureau could halt count a month earlier than planned, officials say," 1 Aug. 2020 As employers in California and across the country ask employees to return to the workplace, many have considered and some are requiring employees to sign similar waivers, employment lawyers say. Harris Meyer,, "Employers require coronavirus liability waivers as conflict mounts over workplace safety," 31 July 2020 The News has reached out to the Army to verify this information and ask whether the investigation will be turned over to the military. Lauren Mcgaughy, Dallas News, "Man who shot Austin protester identified as Army sergeant from North Texas," 31 July 2020 Without relief, Huynh was forced to apply for food stamps and ask her 31-year-old son, Daniel, to lend her money to pay her rent. oregonlive, "Faces of the unemployed: Stories from 7 Oregonians waiting on unemployment benefits," 31 July 2020 Students are generally capable of doing what public-health experts ask, but not all of them, not everything, and not all the time. Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, "Will Kids Follow the New Pandemic Rules at School?," 29 July 2020 Asked specifically about bars, Battle said the city will continue to inspect and will ask the State Health Department to close repeat offenders. Lee Roop |, al, "Health official warns north Alabama faces ‘going off the cliff’ on COVID-19," 13 July 2020 Just take it in or ask them their procedures on how to unlock a device (read more on Jeffrey Van Camp, Wired, "What's the Best Unlimited Data Plan?," 10 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun One iteration of this Apple Keynote file was prepared for an ask meeting with a person who appears to be Cognex Corporation founder Robert Shillman, a devoted funder of Islamophobic causes who was also one of O’Keefe’s would-be wedding guests. Matthew Phelan, The New Republic, "Inside the Project Veritas Plan to Steal the Election," 3 Aug. 2020 Stopping Skyz is an unfair ask of competing teams, but Mutineers opponents will have to find ways to contain him, especially in respawn maps. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "Inaugural Call of Duty season closing in on finish line: Which teams are hot, and which players will determine final seeding?," 9 July 2020 Believing John Travolta, Olivia-Newton John, Stockard Channing and the rest of the T-Birds and Pink Ladies as teenagers is a big ask. cleveland, "Before you watch ‘Hamilton,’ here are 15 movies based on Broadway musicals, ranked," 1 July 2020 There’s still the matter, though, of making a financial ask during unsettled economic times. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "‘A lot harder’: COVID-19 challenges political fundraising as Texas heads toward critical November election," 1 July 2020 After talking to friends and doing some soul searching, Johnson got on board with becoming a wife once more, and Rushing couldn’t wait to make the big ask. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "Watch: Toya Johnson And Red Rushing's Helicopter Engagement Will Have You On Cloud 9," 30 June 2020 In other words, having a realistic ask that helps signers understand how adding their name to a cause can help bring about change. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "Online petitions work best when you do more than just sign," 23 June 2020 Defeating the Mayhem after just four days of practice together was a tall ask. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "‘It’s about to get a lot louder in Dallas’: How Fuel newcomer ‘Paintbrush’ could be the missing link," 19 June 2020 The irony of this ask is that it is being requested by a government that, to this day, is involved in an endless war that started in 2001 and has continued from Bush to Obama to Trump. Kweku Ramel Akyirefi Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Opinion: In Milwaukee's racial climate, there is a problem behind the problem that creates anarchy, chaos and division," 5 June 2020

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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Statistics for ask

Last Updated

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for ask


How to pronounce ask (audio) How to pronounce ask (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ask

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ask

Spanish Central: Translation of ask

Nglish: Translation of ask for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ask for Arabic Speakers

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