verb \ ˈask , ˈäsk ; dialectal ˈaks \

Definition of ask

asked play \ˈas(k)t, ˈäs(k)t, ˈask; dialectal ˈakst\; asking
transitive verb
1 a :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
2 a :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

Examples of ask in a Sentence

  1. I need to ask a question.

  2. Did you ask her yet?

  3. “Have you seen the movie yet?” he asked.

  4. a list of frequently asked questions

  5. “If you don't mind me asking, how old are you?” “I'm 35 years old. Why do you ask?”

  6. “Do they have any soda?” “I don't know. I'll go ask.”

  7. I would have given it to him, but he never asked.

  8. We had to stop and ask directions.

  9. May I ask the time?

  10. Did you ask permission to leave?

Recent Examples of ask from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of ask

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

Synonym Discussion of 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




Definition of ask

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

Origin and Etymology of ask

noun derivative of 1ask

ASK Defined for Kids


verb \ ˈask \

Definition of ask for Students

asked; asking
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 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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serious difficulty or misfortune

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