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

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
Verb
Emery Popoloski, who has two students in the system, said she is scheduled to address the City Council on Tuesday to float the idea of a recall campaign targeting Galvin and to ask councilors to consider taking a vote of no-confidence in the mayor. Laura Crimaldi, BostonGlobe.com, 4 Feb. 2023 Kamal suggests young people sit down with their grandparents and other close relatives and ask them about their illnesses — and then write it down. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, 4 Feb. 2023 That would have seemed like an obvious question to ask. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 4 Feb. 2023 Maybe because men don’t tend to ask their wives and girlfriends to go fishing with them. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, 4 Feb. 2023 Crawford, who also is a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Boston, says that when children ask about a news headline or are exposed to disturbing footage, don't be afraid to open up a conversation with them. Zulekha Nathoo, USA TODAY, 4 Feb. 2023 The community meeting, held at Renaissance Place, was a chance for neighborhood residents to take a look at the plans, provide feedback and ask questions. Tom Daykin, Journal Sentinel, 4 Feb. 2023 He had been detained in July—months before the still-ongoing wave of protests across Iran began—after going to the prosecutor’s office to ask about the arrests of two fellow filmmakers, Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Aleahmad. Ella Feldman, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Feb. 2023 Counting plays a significant role in the celebration, and many teachers ask children to bring 100 small items like pennies, buttons, beans, cereal pieces or macaroni to use in math or arts and crafts activities. Gabi De La Rosa, Chron, 3 Feb. 2023
Noun
The key is to anticipate your manager’s concerns, come prepared with solutions and make your ask in the right way. Rachel Feintzeig, WSJ, 19 Dec. 2022 Keeping your home tidy without doing what feels like a deep clean every week can feel like a big ask. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, 22 Nov. 2022 Given their recent stretch of abysmal play, doing so feels like quite an ask. cleveland, 7 Oct. 2022 Thirty percent may sound like a big ask for farmers, but in some cases, such cutbacks in irrigation are possible. John Richard Saylor, Discover Magazine, 18 Apr. 2021 While matching this year's record will be a tall ask, Troy does get chances to make some noise in non-conference play against Kansas State, Western Kentucky and Army. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, 12 Jan. 2023 Ever since the sudden death of Abloh in November 2021, the house has been carefully considering the sensitive question of who might replace him – a huge ask given Abloh’s generational impact and influence. Luke Leitch, Vogue, 10 Jan. 2023 If the Oilers can survive, Campbell will need to summon his Leaf inside, and that’s a big ask given how the rest of the crew thinks in terms of stopping goals. Kevin Paul Dupont, BostonGlobe.com, 7 Jan. 2023 Fifteen percent is not a huge ask, but some companies have been reluctant to sign on. Brad Ogbonna, Glamour, 25 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

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 6 Feb. 2023.

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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