\ ˈask , ˈäsk ; dialectal ˈaks \
asked\ˈas(k)t, ˈäs(k)t, ˈask; dialectalˈakst \; 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

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

Jim Jordan and his supporters have learned that lesson well: Now @CNN is contacting all 100+ of our former staff and interns asking for dirt on me. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "The defense of Jim Jordan and the defense of Trump are now intertwined.," 12 July 2018 At this stage, the RCPG board is only considering whether to ask the county to do a General Plan Amendment so that a feasibility study can be done in the future. Julie Gallant, Ramona Sentinel, "Garden advocate wants Ramona Street completion off priority list," 11 July 2018 The attorneys for the four DBSI defendants asked for the same consideration. John Sowell, idahostatesman, "Meridian businessmen who led fraud scheme that hurt 8,500 investors imprisoned at last," 10 July 2018 For 15 days afterward, the app will ask them each day if any ticks have bitten them. Kate Sheridan, SELF, "Here’s Exactly What to Do if a Tick Bites You," 14 July 2018 Authorities ask anyone with information to call Phoenix Police Department at 602-262-6151 or Silent Witness at 480-948-6377. Kelsey Mo, azcentral, "Gunman sought after fatal shooting near 24th Street and Roeser Road," 13 July 2018 Just ask my backcountry partners on a day when Joe hasn’t had his joe. Joe Jackson, Outside Online, "The MugMate Is the Best Camp Coffeemaker, Hands Down," 13 July 2018 Federal prosecutors asked a judge to dismiss all charges against Menendez in January. Lev Facher, STAT, "Read the fine print: N.J. senator sets up phony health news website to attack challenger Bob Hugin," 13 July 2018 Detectives ask anyone with information to call Detective Anthony Paigo at 954-926-2400. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Distraction thieves shown on video stealing from English visitor in Dania Beach hotel," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This week’s Top 10 list asks: Who will be the Football Bowl Subdivision conference champions in 2018? Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "Clemson, not Alabama, is the safest bet to win a conference title in 2018," 19 June 2018 The perfunctory ask for a postgame interview was being granted. Ron Richmond For The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "Inside Luke Heimlich's senior season with the Oregon State baseball team," 8 June 2018 What, many of us in states that have implemented the expansion ask, is holding up the parade?, "Why Medicaid work requirements could help persuade more states to expand coverage," 17 May 2018 In response, Rovelli’s book asks, Why should time have an order? Alan Lightman, New York Times, "Benedict Cumberbatch Meets Albert Einstein in Carlo Rovelli’s New Audiobook," 14 May 2018 Of the 12 weddings held there each month, five or six ask for a champagne-popping shot. Terri Akman,, "The photograph everyone wants taken at their wedding," 17 Apr. 2018 So this week’s Top 10 list asks: Which of the 10 teams to finish last in their respective leagues in 2017 is headed for the most successful 2018? 1. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "College football's last-placed teams headed for better things in 2018 season," 3 Apr. 2018 With raw emotions still spilling onto the streets of his city, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is asking the same question many ask after an unarmed black man is shot dead by police: Isn’t there another way? Ryan Lillis, sacbee, "After police kill unarmed black man, Sacramento mayor asks, 'Is there not another way?' | The Sacramento Bee," 23 Mar. 2018 Urbaniak says of the average boyfriend-specific ask. Lizzy Goodman, The Cut, "Just Ask," 23 Jan. 2018

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

19 Sep 2018

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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


\ ˈask \
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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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).


a magnificent or impressive array

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