\ 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

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?
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The ballot initiative would ask voters to decide whether to allow pari-mutuel operators in North Florida to add casino games to their operations. Dara Kam,, 11 Jan. 2022 The opponents will ask the council Tuesday night to authorize hiring a consultant to help draft local clean air ordinances. Don Stacom,, 11 Jan. 2022 Police ask anyone with information about the incident to contact investigators at 770-499-3987. Marietta Daily Journal, al, 10 Jan. 2022 Some might reasonably ask, what exactly needs protecting? Gregory D. Stevens, STAT, 9 Jan. 2022 People always ask me where is my least favorite place to come and play? Mike Preston,, 9 Jan. 2022 People frequently ask why the couple doesn’t just take the cats off the box. Washington Post, 8 Jan. 2022 Most of the at-home tests still ask you to swab just your nose. Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Jan. 2022 Just ask Travis Hunter, the top high school player in the country who dissed FSU for a reportedly huge NIL incentive from BarStool Sports to attend Jackson State, where coach Deion Sanders rules the roost. Chris Hays,, 7 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But sustaining this new normal for more than a year has been an even bigger ask. Adrian Gostick, Forbes, 11 May 2021 When another woman in the group put out an ask for a bike after her car broke down, Coleman paid it forward. Tessa Duvall, The Courier-Journal, 16 Dec. 2021 But these compliments are often followed by an ask. William Arruda, Forbes, 9 Sep. 2021 The Eagles’ defense will have to play its best game yet in order to stop Western’s high-flying offense, and that that may be too big of an ask. Adam Lichtenstein,, 11 Nov. 2021 While the opposition has been aggressive given the size of the ask, progress in the negotiations is advancing. Hank Torbert, Forbes, 27 Sep. 2021 Perhaps Connor Clifton can trim back some of his freelancing and switch from right to left side, but that might be too much of an ask, particularly in a top four role., 25 July 2021 And the shame of that ask can feel more painful than hunger pangs. Washington Post, 24 Dec. 2020 On Friday, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat who also served as the state attorney general, implied there could be some sort of inappropriate ask of Chatfield and Shirkey during the meeting. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, 20 Nov. 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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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

14 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2022.

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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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