\ ˈask How to pronounce ask (audio) , ˈäsk How to pronounce ask (audio) ; 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
: 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 unlikelyIt'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

Antonyms: Verb

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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

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?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Prosecutors waited until days before his sentence was set to expire in September 2017 to ask another judge to impose the life sentence. Cory Shaffer, cleveland, "Ohio Supreme Court OKs release of convicted Cleveland killer who judge forgot to sentence to life in prison," 9 Oct. 2020 The Davidson County Election Commission plans to ask a judge whether the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act petition must go to the public for a referendum vote in December. Vivian Jones, Washington Examiner, "Nashville mayor’s office says across-the-board cuts unlikely if property tax repeal prevails," 8 Oct. 2020 Retirement reporter Anne Tergesen outlines the questions workers should ask if they are offered a package. Sarah Chaney, WSJ, "U.S. Unemployment Claims Remain Elevated Above 800,000," 8 Oct. 2020 Willfully allowing inflation to go above target will seem reckless; why, inflation hawks are sure to ask, should the Fed risk igniting high inflation after it’s already achieved its purpose of eradicating deflationary psychology? Peter Coy,, "The Most Dovish Fed in History Is on a Mission to Spur Inflation," 8 Oct. 2020 But defeating Eden Prairie in your debut is a lot to ask. Star Tribune, "Star Tribune staff picks for week one," 8 Oct. 2020 Have a question Polletta should ask the candidates? Alison Steinbach, The Arizona Republic, "Matt Nielsen and Brigette Peterson to meet in Gilbert mayoral debate on Oct. 15 on azcentral," 8 Oct. 2020 Users can ask to delete their accounts, including the images, at any time, said Catallozzi. Washington Post, "Amazon imagines a world where you pay with your hand. Privacy experts aren’t so sure.," 7 Oct. 2020 After a warden denies the request or 30 days pass with no response, the prisoner can take the case to court and ask for a judge to approve it. NBC News, "Thousands of sick federal prisoners sought release as Covid-19 spread. Nearly all were denied.," 7 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Really like what Joe Burrow is showing, but this is too big an ask this soon. Barry Wilner, Star Tribune, "Philly Special? Don't expect Brady to bring it up to Foles," 7 Oct. 2020 That sometimes necessitated different art or a new approach, a tough ask when time and resources are scarce. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "Breonna Taylor’s case is as painful as it unsurprising," 25 Sep. 2020 Her message felt overly scripted at times, but convincing enough to end with an ask of her listeners. Stephania Taladrid, The New Yorker, "Biden’s Case to Latino Voters Comes Late. Will They Listen?," 16 Sep. 2020 Asking for a raise or a big promotion right now is probably going to hit the ears of most bosses as an ask from an alternative reality. Mika Brzezinski, NBC News, "Mika's Know Your Value pandemic reset: Roll up your sleeves," 10 Sep. 2020 Plus: Mark Zuckerberg’s own words, the personification of the internet, and Burger King’s whopper of an ask. Steven Levy, Wired, "Facebook Finally Slowed Down—When We Needed It to Move Fast," 2 Oct. 2020 But that money is largely spent now, and talks to allocate more have been unfruitful: Democrats refuse to lower their stimulus ask of $2.2 trillion, and the White House won't come up from its offer of $1.3 trillion. Fortune, "What the unemployed need from the 2020 election," 30 Sep. 2020 For essential workers on the front lines today — and office denizens who may return to in-person work in the coming months — that’s a more complicated ask. Sarah Feldberg,, "We need workers to stay home when they’re ill. It’s going to take universal sick leave," 30 Aug. 2020 For acts that keep a touring crew on their payroll, that's a big ask. Dave Brooks, Billboard, "'The Talent Ate Good for Years': Promoters to Shift More Risk Onto Artists When Concerts Return," 18 Sep. 2020

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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Learn More about ask

Time Traveler for ask

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for ask

Last Updated

16 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for ask


How to pronounce ask (audio) How to pronounce ask (audio)

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


\ 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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ask

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ask

Nglish: Translation of ask for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ask for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ask

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