\ 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

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 So, when hitting rough waters, stop and ask yourself what the commonalities are among your happy customers. Dmitri Lisitski, Forbes, "Survival Advice: Driving Growth In A Work-From-Home World," 11 May 2021 When former congressman Ron Paul was chastised by YouTube for spreading medical misinformation, Pavlovski used his Twitter account to ask him to join Rumble. Wired Opinion, Wired, "Rumble Sends Viewers Tumbling Toward Misinformation," 11 May 2021 Grab a friend, parent, or sibling and ask them to sit down with you to chat. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "17 Tricks to Help You Get Over Your Crush," 6 May 2021 Ask her to ask him to dial back his need to compete, impress, cover for his own insecurity -- whatever drives him. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, "Dear Abby: Overbearing boyfriend may lose his invite to family get-togethers," 4 May 2021 Above all, the question that writers should ask themselves, and that viewers should weigh, is why a rape is appearing onscreen or onstage in a work of art. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "What the Sexual Violence of Game of Thrones Begot," 4 May 2021 Avoid preparers who ask you to sign a blank return, promise a big refund upfront, or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund., "Be on alert for the IRS’s ‘dirty dozen’ tax scams," 4 May 2021 Ask her to ask him to dial back his need to compete, impress, cover for his own insecurity -- whatever drives him. Arkansas Online, "OPINION | DEAR ABBY: Overbearing boyfriend ruins family get-togethers," 4 May 2021 The questions are piling up, but unfortunately, Mare won’t be able to ask them. Shannon Carlin,, "Mare of Easttown Episode 3 Recap: So, Did The Deacon Really Do It?," 3 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If that sounds like too big an ask, fear not, as there are plenty of family-friendly activities happening this week and weekend in Central Florida that will be easy to say yes to. Kathleen Christiansen,, "Say yes to these family-friendly events in Central Florida," 28 Apr. 2021 After last summer’s extended playoff sequestering in the Toronto bubble, that may not sound like a big ask., "How the Bruins are dealing with the exhausting pace of the regular season," 24 Apr. 2021 Rufail asked his Twitter followers to be patient, and that expecting immediate results wasn’t going to be a fair ask. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "Dallas Empire, Hastr0 stand by lineup shakeup after 3-0 loss; Huke was ‘holding back progress’," 26 Apr. 2021 This $2 trillion ask, only about 5% of the funding goes to infrastructure. CBS News, "Transcript: Cecilia Rouse on "Face the Nation," April 4, 2021," 4 Apr. 2021 The Oregonian reported on Wednesday that every member of Portland’s City Council opposes Wheeler’s $2 million ask. Jeremy Beaman, Washington Examiner, "Portland police 'can't keep up' with gun violence," 1 Apr. 2021 To find an answer, researchers need to run an experiment — and make a big ask of college students: Flip a coin and get the vaccine now, or put off a shot for four months. Washington Post, "Covid-19 live updates More contagious U.K. virus variant not linked to worse disease, new study says," 13 Apr. 2021 The ask is part of the budget’s discretionary spending, which needs to be passed by Congress each year. Richard Tribou,, "Biden administration budget request includes nearly $25 billion for NASA," 12 Apr. 2021 Dingell and the rest of Michigan's congressional delegation sent a bipartisan letter to the president expressing a similar ask. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, "Whitmer: Michigan to extend workplace COVID-19 restrictions amid surge in cases," 12 Apr. 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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Statistics for ask

Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for ask



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.

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

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