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

Initially, SpaceX asked the FCC for permission to launch 4,425 satellites into orbits ranging between 1,110 to 1,325 kilometers high. Loren Grush, The Verge, "SpaceX wants to fly some internet satellites closer to Earth to cut down on space trash," 9 Nov. 2018 In their demands, employees asked the company for the number of harassment claims at Google over time. Shirin Ghaffary, Recode, "Google has responded to its employees’ demands about sexual misconduct. Here are the changes it will and won’t make.," 8 Nov. 2018 The investment firm is asking for the 5,000 bitcoins back, which at present exchange rates would be worth over $31.3 million. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Lawyer: My client didn’t steal 5,000 bitcoins, “Period”," 7 Nov. 2018 Connie Britton brings quiet strength to her characters and a lot of love to the table, on screen and in real life — just don't ask her to cook. Lindsey Benoit O'connell, Redbook, "Connie Britton Shares Her Rules for a Totally Chill Holiday Season," 29 Oct. 2018 Strzok declined to answer multiple questions about what Page did or didn't know, or her actions during the investigation, which leaves Congress plenty of questions to ask her Friday. CBS News, "Lisa Page to testify behind closed doors," 13 July 2018 Lawmakers have asked for Dorsey to appear before Congress, just one indication that social media companies are now in a post-2016, post-Cambridge Analytica regulatory environment. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Is Twitter Good Now?," 13 July 2018 Dein began by showing Drake a seemingly ordinary red lollipop in his hand, then asked him who his favorite superhero is. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "Drake Simply Cannot Handle Street Magician Julius Dein's Lollipop Trick: Watch," 12 July 2018 Late last month, for example, the U.S. asked Saudi Arabia to produce more oil to stabilize global energy prices. Lucas Laursen, Fortune, "The U.S. Could Soon Reclaim the World's Oil Crown," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The settlement was replaced with a new exit strategy resolving the Sycamore claims for $105 million, far less than an earlier $470 million ask floated by Messrs. Miller and Tepner. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Nine West Directors Caught in Bankruptcy Crossfire," 31 Oct. 2018 Expecting your friends to respect your privacy isn’t a particularly big ask. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Reportedly Have This One Rule for Their Friends," 9 Aug. 2018 Expanding those efforts to attract 20 to 30 indie games a week will be a big ask, but not an impossible one. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Many more indie games will be coming to Switch if Nintendo has its way," 10 July 2018 The Chamber, in partnership with IPS, has been combing through the district's budget, expenditures and needs in hopes of identifying cost savings that would reduce that ask. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "Chamber calls for nearly $500M in IPS cuts in exchange for support of $100M tax hike," 11 July 2018 Seems like Uber is also sticking with the ask-for-forgiveness-later strategy, even with a new CEO. Polina Marinova, Fortune, "Term Sheet -- Tuesday, July 10," 10 July 2018 The linebackers should be better, but if Derrick Nnadi is being asked to do what Bennie Logan did last year and Dontari Poe before that, well, seems like a big ask. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Mellinger Minutes: Herrera's gone, what's next for Royals and worrisome about Chiefs," 19 June 2018 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

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

14 Nov 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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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