ask

verb
\ 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
informal
: 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
informal
: 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

ask

noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from ask

Verb

asker noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for ask

Synonyms: Verb

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

Antonyms: Verb

answer, reply, respond

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for ask

Verb

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: Verb

His lawyers said in letters to the court that Person was financially broke at the time of his crimes, and has asked for leniency as a result. Sam Blum | Sblum@al.com, al.com, "Sentencing hearing for Chuck Person adjourned for 8 days," 8 July 2019 More by Bob Egelko The companies, Nestle and Cargill, asked the full appeals court for a new hearing before a larger panel. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "Suit alleging US chocolate makers collaborated in slave labor proceeds," 7 July 2019 Serie A champions Juventus have joined the race to sign Belgium international Romelu Lukaku this summer, asking for Manchester United's permission to speak to the player ahead of the new season. SI.com, "Juventus Approach Man Utd Over Romelu Lukaku Talks as Proposed Inter Move Hits Snag," 6 July 2019 Some locals have started turning to social media asking for donations of tents and other camping gear. Fox News, "Maine single mother facing eviction offered tent and camping gear by city," 6 July 2019 Begin by asking critical questions when digesting diet news. The Conversation, "Confused about what to eat? Science can help," 5 July 2019 The doctors recounted treating children who were still sick and asked for access to the federal shelters. Dallas News, "Castro rises in poll, outrage over Texas immigration detention centers grows, new Dallas voting plan," 4 July 2019 Upon my arrival at JFK, the immigration officer took my envelope and dispassionately asked me a few routine questions. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "Donald Trump made me want to be American," 4 July 2019 When in doubt, find your richest friend and ask for some cash. Emily Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Spider-Man: Far From Home turns a class-conscious hero into a tech bro," 3 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

All a stalk of corn asks of you is water, sunlight, and time. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, "May I Recommend That You Grow Your Own Corn," 20 June 2019 An initial ask of $2 million to produce three new episodes was met within a week. John Wenzel, The Know, "Mile High Movie Roast’s farewell marks end of era for B-movie comedy," 23 June 2019 The Minnesota Management & Budget department began accepting funding requests in early May. The deadline for submitting preliminary asks is June 14. Bill Salisbury, Twin Cities, "MN Legislature didn’t do a public works bill this session. Expect some big requests next year.," 10 June 2019 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, SI.com, "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

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.

See More

First Known Use of ask

Verb

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

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ask

Verb

Middle English, from Old English āscian; akin to Old High German eiscōn to ask, Lithuanian ieškoti to seek, Sanskrit icchati he seeks

Noun

noun derivative of ask entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ask

Statistics for ask

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ask

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ask

ask

verb

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

ask

verb
\ 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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

providing supplementary assistance

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!