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

transitive verb

: to call on for an answer
She asked him about his trip.
: to put a question about
asking her opinion
: speak, utter
ask a question
: to make a request of
She asked her teacher for help.
: to make a request for
She asked help from her teacher.
: to call for : require
a challenge that will ask much of us
: to set as a price
asked $3000 for the car
: invite
She asked a few friends to the party.

intransitive verb

: to seek information
ask for her address
: to make a request
asked for food
asker noun


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
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
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

Example Sentences

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
To protect themselves and their relatives and friends inside Russia, all asked to be identified only by their first names. USA Today, 31 May 2023 Bankman-Fried’s defense lawyers on Tuesday asked the judge overseeing his criminal case to force prosecutors to hand over documents given to the government by former FTX law firm Fenwick & West. Ava Benny-morrison, Fortune, 31 May 2023 Basa-Sabol asked in the recording, but no answer came. Marc Ramirez, USA TODAY, 30 May 2023 As the trailer shows several types of oils and veggies, Deschanel asks a series of thought-provoking questions. Zizi Strater, Peoplemag, 30 May 2023 Though Morrissey sent out a campaign mailer with quotes of praise from a handful of senators, some did not respond when asked by a reporter if their quotes were intended as endorsements. Gregory S. Schneider, Washington Post, 30 May 2023 Museveni had sent the original bill passed in March back, asking parliament to tone down some provisions. Reuters, NBC News, 30 May 2023 Seyfried was asked about Holmes during a Good Morning Americaappearance Tuesday, the same day Holmes reported to a Texas prison facility to begin serving an 11-year sentence for defrauding investors. Shania Russell,, 30 May 2023 Grant often starts workshops asking the crowd who’s spoken to their best friend today. Alyssa Giacobbe, Town & Country, 30 May 2023
That’s a big ask from parents who are already spread too thin on the heels of a global crisis, though. Good Housekeeping, 16 May 2023 But to protect them, experts say, farmers need to stop overtaxing their land in pursuit of more production, a difficult ask in a part of the country that has traditionally lagged in development and poverty reduction. Rebecca Tan,, 15 May 2023 Of course, this is was a deeply Heat-ed ask, pitting two Italianx kings against each other. Vulture, 15 May 2023 Republican lawmakers have cast a particularly skeptical eye on an initial ask to spend about 40% of the money on mass transit. Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic, 8 May 2023 For many private schools, administering a test is not a major ask as many already are required to do so to gain accreditation from the Arkansas Nonpublic School Accrediting Association. Neal Earley, Arkansas Online, 30 Apr. 2023 At the time, IPS sought an operating and capital referendum in a November election that equaled around a $272 million referendum ask. Caroline Beck, The Indianapolis Star, 21 Apr. 2023 The company and its debtors made the ask in a statement Sunday, setting a Feb. 28 deadline to return the cash. Ben Kamisar, NBC News, 6 Feb. 2023 The ask came in an 1,800-word letter from the business group’s president, Andrew Hoan, who also touted an alternate package of City Hall fixes — floated by Portland Commissioner Mingus Mapps and not on the Nov. 8 ballot — as the one frustrated city voters should instead rally behind. oregonlive, 15 Oct. 2022 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



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

First Known Use


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


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.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on ask

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