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

Companies tell their employees over and over again to embrace your failures, to ask yourselves what went wrong and to take advantage of all the learning opportunities that failure affords. Francesca Gino, WSJ, "Don’t Just Learn From Failure; Learn From Your Successes," 10 May 2019 Meghan's mom, Doria Ragland, also attended the event, giving the prince a rumored opportunity to ask permission to propose. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "A Timeline of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Relationship," 8 May 2019 So to be on the super safe side, be sure to ask if it's not mentioned in the listing. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "A Survey Found That One in Ten Airbnb Users Have Found Hidden Cameras," 8 May 2019 With that in mind, we are tempted to ask—what will the Sussex's nursery look like? Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Nursery Could Look Like This," 26 Mar. 2019 Courtesy of Everlane Fans of Everlane have been asking for sneakers and now the company has turned everyone's wishes into reality. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "Everlane's First-Ever Unisex Sneakers Are Eco-Friendly and Under $100," 18 Apr. 2019 Newsletter Sign-up When asked for comment, a CenterPoint spokeswoman referred to Mr. Prochazka’s statement. Tatyana Shumsky, WSJ, "CenterPoint Energy Hires Georgia Power Finance Chief," 18 Apr. 2019 After years of customers asking for a spring mattress, your favorite mattress-in-a-box brand just announced the launch of their new Hybrid Collection. Alyssa Fiorentino, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need To Know About Casper's New Hybrid Mattress," 16 Apr. 2019 Why is a committee chairman writing to Lyndon Johnson, asking for a few minutes of his time? Eleanor Hildebrandt, Popular Mechanics, "Historian Robert Caro on the Importance of Analog Research in a Digital Age," 15 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Another item on your agenda in the months leading up to the big ask? Macaela Mackenzie, Marie Claire, "5 Things You Must Do Before Asking for a Raise," 6 Dec. 2018 Replacing Josh Adams and his 3,201 career rushing yards is a tough ask. Laken Litman, Indianapolis Star, "Best- and worst-case scenarios for Notre Dame football in 2018," 2 July 2018 Yes, this is a big ask, especially for anyone who hasn’t ripped apart a computer before. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "How to Recover Your Data from a Dead Hard Drive," 17 Jan. 2019 In the case of Alia, cleaners have to ask clients to sign up — often a difficult ask depending on the relationship between employer and employee. Juliana Feliciano Reyes, The Seattle Times, "A new app gives paid time off to the ‘original gig workers’," 15 Jan. 2019

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

16 May 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

to speak slightingly about or to degrade

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
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!