\ 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 Flores said regarding Tunsil when asked about the rumors. Safid Deen,, "Jadeveon Clowney does not want to play for Dolphins. Here’s what it could mean for Laremy Tunsil | Analysis," 30 Aug. 2019 Scientific American asked Rebecca Albright to weigh in. Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, "Don’t Believe the Hype: The Pumice Raft Won’t Save the Great Barrier Reef," 30 Aug. 2019 Those attending are asked to bring canned food or nonperishable food for the Ramona Food & Clothes Closet. Ramona Sentinel, "Forum to address ‘Monetary System 101’," 29 Aug. 2019 After receiving a tip, ProPublica asked Ackerman to respond to questions about a harassment complaint involving one of its employees. Mike Spies, ProPublica, "The NRA Used Funds to Settle a Sexual Harassment Claim Against a Top Official — And Then He Was Accused Again," 28 Aug. 2019 But there was one question that wasn’t asked in the lengthy ESPN interview. John Morgan, MMA Junkie, "Dana White: Conor McGregor's apology needed, but sexual assault allegation still murky," 28 Aug. 2019 Ordinarily, neither tends to scrutinize the officials and candidates he’s asked to donate to, Oliphant said. Dominic Fracassa,, "Breed 2018 campaign probed for possible campaign finance violations," 19 Aug. 2019 That's the question Tara C. Smith, professor of epidemiology at Kent State University, asks in this comment piece. NBC News, "Trump dismisses economic slowdown fears: Read the Morning Rundown," 19 Aug. 2019 When Pelissero asked if Metcalf had a shot to play in Week 1, Carroll repeated the team is optimistic. Charlotte Carroll,, "Seahawks Rookie Wideout DK Metcalf to Undergo Knee Surgery," 19 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Her main ask was for a job coach, to help her learn the social norms and cues of her new workplace. Dave Orrick, Twin Cities, "MN DHS under scrutiny for treatment of employees with disabilities," 14 Nov. 2019 While adding speakers to a display isn't a very big ask, this has the ability to allow sound to be generated at the location where an object is displayed, which could provide some interesting effects. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "New 3D display combines visuals, haptic feedback, and sound," 14 Nov. 2019 Part of my ask of Yuriy was to come back and do the first episode. Breanne L. Heldman,, "Chicago Fire Boss Explains That Heartbreaking Premiere Death: 'It Was Right for the Show'," 26 Sep. 2019 Kesha fan Joseph Negrelli told Billboard about arranging the ask. Lydia Price,, "18 Adorable Ways Celebs Have Helped Fans Pop the Question," 1 July 2019 Such costs are a big ask when there isn’t any documented proof that winery wastewater impacts the environment, said Beveridge, the Wilridge Winery owner. Mai Hoang, The Seattle Times, "Washington’s wine industry adjusts to new wastewater requirements," 11 Aug. 2019 Admittedly, a Final Four would be a big ask for the conference as a whole (the Pac-12 has appeared in one Final Four over the past decade—Oregon in 2017), but Arizona has enough intriguing pieces to potentially pull it off. Max Meyer,, "Pac-12 Offseason Report: Power Rankings and Burning Questions for 2019-20," 23 July 2019 Build a village, and be clear and concise in your ask for help. Christina Stembel, Quartz at Work, "Creating Farmgirl Flowers taught me my high school education is more than enough," 29 Aug. 2019 Like Kimsooja, the ask was radical simplicity: Do the thing only to do the thing, not for Instagram likes or Facebook shares. Globe Staff,, "At the Peabody Essex, exhibition dares museumgoers to trade iPhones for balls of clay," 8 Aug. 2019

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

Cite this Entry

“Ask.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ask

Spanish Central: Translation of ask

Nglish: Translation of ask for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ask for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ask

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a period of high artistic development

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