ask

1 of 2

verb

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

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
asker noun

ask

2 of 2

noun

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
Phrases
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
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? See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
When asked about the cars on offer in Miami, Myers is assuredly optimistic. Viju Mathew, Robb Report, 28 Feb. 2024 Rosenworcel began asking about automaker policies after a story in The New York Times about how connected cars are being weaponized in abusive relationships. Tom Krisher, Quartz, 28 Feb. 2024 Imagine this scenario—A babysitter is asked to stay an extra hour on a job only to have the parents stay out all night, leaving the sitter to wonder if the parents were even okay, let alone coming home. Melissa Willets, Parents, 28 Feb. 2024 White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked Wednesday if President Biden had spoken to the family of Laken Riley. TIME, 28 Feb. 2024 He was asked where the victory ranks in his five seasons at BYU. Gary Bedore, Kansas City Star, 28 Feb. 2024 What a huge honour to have been asked to be Ambassador for this year’s Record Store Day. Jazz Monroe, Pitchfork, 28 Feb. 2024 The city of Canadian had been asked to shelter in place and several agencies were sending crews to help protect structures against the advancing flames, according to one of the coordination center updates. USA TODAY, 28 Feb. 2024 Mikel Arteta was asked about Arsenal’s interest in Mbappe while Liverpool have been linked with the French international in the past. Graham Ruthven, Forbes, 28 Feb. 2024
Noun
Seeing Is Believing Expecting the company to double sales in two short years is a big ask. Pamela N. Danziger, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 Investing financially in journalism can be a big ask, especially for young people. Landon Block, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Feb. 2024 The ask: a deed restriction that prevents Swags from getting a bar-level liquor license in the future. Sam Kmack, The Arizona Republic, 18 Jan. 2024 Getting back to the doorstep of the playoff might be a tall ask of a team that needs to unearth a new starting quarterback to replace Jordan Travis. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, 9 Jan. 2024 Saudi Arabia also had big asks, including a massive defense pact with Washington. Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, 1 Feb. 2024 The small municipality made a small ask: $160,000 to clear a camp of about 30 people along the Los Angeles riverbed and expand the city’s shelter system. Marisa Kendall, The Mercury News, 18 Jan. 2024 So far, Biden has firmly rejected such asks, echoing Israel’s claim that a cease-fire would benefit Hamas. Sarah E. Parkinson, Foreign Affairs, 14 Nov. 2023 Shortly after the Verge published the initial leak, Mullenweg took to Tumblr, posting the memo in full and opening his ask box for questions. WIRED, 14 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ask.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near ask

Cite this Entry

“Ask.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ask. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

ask

verb
1
: to seek information : inquire
asked about our trip
2
a
: to make a request
ask for help
b
: to make a request to
ask your teacher to help you
3
: to set as a price : demand
asked $20 for the bicycle
4
: invite entry 1 sense 2a
asked friends to a party
5
: to behave as if looking
asking for trouble
asker noun

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