\ ˈask How to pronounce ask (audio) , ˈäsk How to pronounce ask (audio) ; dialectal ˈaks \
asked\ ˈas(k)t How to pronounce ask (audio) , ˈäs(k)t , ˈask ; dialectal  ˈakst \; asking

Essential Meaning of ask

1 : to say or write something to someone as a way of gaining information : to request an answer to a question I need to ask a question. I need to ask you a question. = (less commonly) I need to ask a question of you. See More ExamplesAre there any questions you would like to ask (me)? 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/my asking, how old are you?" "I'm 35 years old. Why do you ask?" Please don't ask again. "Do they have any soda?" "I don't know. I'll go ask."Hide
2 : 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 If you want something to drink, just ask. [=just tell me that you want something to drink] I would have given it to him, but he never asked. See More ExamplesWe had to stop and ask directions. May I ask the time? Did you ask permission to leave? She asked their forgiveness.Hide
3 : to invite (someone) to go somewhere or do something He's asking just a few friends to the party. I asked him to lunch. They asked me over for dinner.

Full 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 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

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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 In fact, our research and research by others shows conclusively that women do ask for higher salaries as often as men do—sometimes more. Laura Kray And Margaret Lee, WSJ, 14 Oct. 2021 The company also took to social media on Wednesday, posting a tweet to ask for help in locating Bryan. Fox News, 14 Oct. 2021 Be wary of callers who specifically ask you to pay by gift card or crypto-currency (Bitcoin). Johnny Magdaleno, The Indianapolis Star, 14 Oct. 2021 The trio entered again at a back entry to ask about visitor policies. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Oct. 2021 Parker also received board approval to ask the Sheriff’s Department to allow him or a qualified investigator to attend death-scene investigations. Kelly Davis, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Oct. 2021 However, some experts interviewed by ABC news say some patients who won't get vaccinated also ask for monoclonal antibody treatment after the are diagnosed with COVID, which has the same emergency use authorization. Dr. Jess Dawson, ABC News, 14 Oct. 2021 Then, once the attorney's time for argument has ended, each justice has the chance to ask questions in order of seniority, beginning with the chief justice. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 14 Oct. 2021 Unlike with criminal contempt, civil contempt would see Congress ask the judicial branch to enforce a congressional subpoena. Paul Leblanc, CNN, 14 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Our ask is that NBCU treats YouTube TV like any other TV provider. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 27 Sep. 2021 My ask of Sir Patrick and his colleagues in their new roles is to use long-term and sustained funding strategies with place at their heart. Kath Mackay, Forbes, 29 June 2021 Another part tells me our vaccination ask was a perfectly sufficient litmus test. Washington Post, 28 June 2021 Meanwhile, plans for a stadium — the one that is supposed to solve all the A’s woes, a very big ask — will continue to play out. Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle, 2 Oct. 2021 Raising prices to suppliers to fill that gap would not be a major ask for big companies like Fashion Nova and Ross Dress for Less. Elizabeth L. Cline, Forbes, 25 Sep. 2021 Relying on entertainment figures to shoulder the climate-change burden might seem like a large ask. Washington Post, 24 Sep. 2021 Mackey’s proposal calls for more than $5.8 billion in spending for K-12 public schools, an increase from the department’s $5.2 billion ask last year. Trisha Powell Crain |, al, 14 Sep. 2021 But lines blur when a key informant makes a big ask. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 12 Sep. 2021

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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Time Traveler for ask

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near ask

as it is



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Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for ask


\ 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on ask

Nglish: Translation of ask for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ask for Arabic Speakers


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