variants or less commonly askant
: with disapproval or distrust : scornfully
They eyed the stranger askance.
Many critics have looked askance at the proposal.
: with a side-glance : obliquely
That experienced pilot of the Broads looked askance at his watch, and drew Allan aside at the first opportunity.Wilkie Collins

Did you know?

Askance, which etymologists believe may have been influenced by askew, comes from Middle English forms such as askaunce, a-skans, a-skaunces, meaning variously "in such a way that," "as if," "as if to say," and "artificially" or "deceptively." The word was first used in English in the 16th century with the meaning "sideways" or "with a sideways glance," and writers over the years have used the suggestion of someone looking askance at something to express a number of feelings from disapproval and distrust to jealousy.

Examples of askance in a Sentence

we looked askance at the dealer's assertion that the car had never been in an accident
Recent Examples on the Web Candidates and their backers also typically knock on doors to get signatures, but that’s not an option this year as people look askance at strangers on their doorsteps. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 18 May 2020 True, lots of good white progressives look askance at businessmen who amass vast fortunes. John Powers, Los Angeles Times, 28 Feb. 2020 Saban heard those words and looked askance and sidewise. Joseph Goodman |, al, 9 Feb. 2020 But Blue Thunder is still early enough in the cycle to look askance at its titular sweet ride. Peter Opaskar, Ars Technica, 10 Jan. 2020 Anyone who transgresses that norm by refusing to follow traditional gender stereotypes is viewed askance and, in small and large ways, treated as an outcast. Max De Haldevang, Quartz, 27 Dec. 2019 Wisconsinites might look askance at the pie that uses sweet instead of sour cherries, but the bars, Bundt cakes, cookies and other sweets and savories in this book feed the Midwestern soul. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5 Dec. 2019 Even beneficiaries of the increase look at it askance. Robert O'Connell, The Atlantic, 1 Oct. 2019 As regulators look increasingly askance at Big Tech, the very notion of blitzscaling raises competition and other concerns, which will make public investors yet more queasy. The Economist, 28 Sep. 2019

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

Word History


probably a sense development (influenced by asqwynt "obliquely, askew," and phonetically similar words) of earlier and Middle English askaunce, a-skans, a-skaunces "in such a way that, as if, as if to say, artificially, deceptively," from as- as entry 1 + Old French quanses, canses "as if, appearing as though," from quanse-, canse- (going back to Latin quam sī "as if") + -s, adverbial suffix

Note: Evidence for quanses/canses, etc., is lacking in Anglo-French, suggesting that Middle English a-skaunces may not have been directly borrowed from French; rather, the model for the word may have been Middle Dutch als quansis with the same sense, with quansis perhaps borrowed from French dialects adjacent to Dutch (cf. fé lès qwanses "to pretend," Walloon of Liège according to Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, vol. 2, p. 1416).

First Known Use

circa 1530, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of askance was circa 1530


Dictionary Entries Near askance

Cite this Entry

“Askance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: with a side glance
: with distrust or disapproval
eyed the stranger askance

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