Definition of ask in English:

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Pronunciation: /ask/


1 [reporting verb] Say something in order to obtain an answer or some information: [with clause]: he asked if she wanted coffee he asked whether his electric wheelchair would fit through their doors [with object]: people are always asking questions [with direct speech]: “How much further?” I asked [no object]: the old man asked about her job
More example sentences
  • There must also be serious questions asked about the handling of this situation by the administrators.
  • My question actually asked whether this would be a better course of action.
  • It was a simple question that asked whether Parliament should have another look at these laws.
inquire, query, want to know;
question, interrogate, quiz
put forward, pose, raise, submit
1.1 [no object] (ask around) Talk to various people in order to find something out: there are fine meals to be had if you ask around
More example sentences
  • This week I needed to get some commonly used cells from a few different places, so this involved asking around.
  • They asked around and at least five different people have seen him.
  • We were asking around town who the best people to do this kind of record with were, and everyone said we should talk to James and Tim.
1.2 [no object] (ask after) Inquire about the health or well-being of: Mrs. Savage asked after Iris’s mother
More example sentences
  • I fight the urge to ask after the health of his son.
  • He asked after my parents and enquired into the wellbeing of my wife and kids.
  • Since then there has been a deafening silence from punters - we've received three emails asking after Dan's health, including one from a creditor.
2 [with object] Request (someone) to do or give something: Mary asked her father for money [with object and infinitive]: I asked him to call the manager [no object]: don’t be afraid to ask for advice
More example sentences
  • If you're asking users to register for a newsletter, ask for only an email address.
  • He wasn't asked to plea during his appearance today and did not ask for bail.
  • Is it too much to ask for to have at least one popular or semi-popular boy ask me to one of the dances or even out for pizza.
request, demand;
solicit, seek, crave, apply for, petition for, call for, appeal for, beg (for), sue for
2.1 [with clause] Request permission to do something: she asked if she could move in [with infinitive]: he asked to see the officer involved
More example sentences
  • But this story about Tivo asking the FCC for permission to add new features is changing my mind.
  • Without waiting on permission or asking his Commanding Officer he led two hundred men.
  • We also need to ask the chief's permission to kayak down his tribe's river.
2.2 [no object] (ask for) Request to speak to: when I arrived, I asked for Catherine
More example sentences
  • An elderly man answered the door and, when Setisia asked for Astell, requested her name.
  • Natasha, forcing a sly smile, asks for the host.
2.3Request (a specified amount) as a price for selling something: he was asking $250 for the guitar
More example sentences
  • I would probably have taken half the asked amount just to get the thing off my hands.
  • This isn't a greedy seller asking a ridiculous amount no one will pay.
  • We've noticed that houses are staying on the market longer, and that they are often selling for prices below asking.
2.4Expect or demand (something) of someone: it’s asking a lot, but could you look through Billy’s things?
More example sentences
  • It is asking a lot to expect him to do well this year in Paris but, provided he stays fit and avoids the pressure cooker of national expectation, he will be back.
  • It is also asking a lot to expect players to repeat such a performance within days in a European competition.
  • It's far more demanding and you are asking a lot of part-time players to make that step up.
3 [with object] Invite (someone) to one’s home or a function: it’s about time we asked Pam to dinner
More example sentences
  • Once, her mother asked her to come home for a function and there she heard that some ceremony was to take place.
invite, bid, summon, have someone over/around
3.1 (ask someone along) Invite someone to join one on an outing: do you want to ask him along?
More example sentences
  • Nobody's calling you or asking you along to the Royal College of Art.
  • I don't know whether it might have been very wise, proper and dignified for the PM to have asked Latham along.
  • Last week Alison asked me along to a public meeting.
3.2 (ask someone out) Invite someone out socially, typically on a date.
Example sentences
  • This can be as simple as inviting a boy to sit with you or as involved as straight-up asking him out on a date.
  • She asks why he never called her after their first date, and then asks him out again.
  • It's like asking someone out for a date - perseverance never hurts when it comes to getting what you want.


[in singular]
1A request, especially for a donation: it was an awkward ask for more funding
More example sentences
  • I know it's a cheeky ask, and close to the point, but your help could make all the difference…
  • Getting people to sit up until midnight to see him puff the new series could be a bigger ask.
  • That includes recruiting people, and in the technology sector, that has been a difficult ask.
2US The price at which an item, especially a financial security, is offered for sale: [as modifier]: ask prices for bonds
More example sentences
  • The difference between the bid and the ask prices is referred to as the spread.
  • Typically, if you are going to buy a stock, then you will pay a price near the posted ask.
  • They stand ready to buy and sell Nasdaq stocks, and they are required to post their bid and ask prices.



be asking for it (or trouble)

informal Behave in a way that is likely to result in difficulty for oneself: they accused me of asking for it you’re asking for trouble
More example sentences
  • With only half an hour until curtain up at the Odeon, we quickly decide that choosing a dessert would simply be asking for trouble - though it proves to be yet another Promethean struggle to get the bill.
  • Any more than that and you were asking for trouble.
  • Of course, these kids were asking for trouble with their actions.

don't ask me!

informal Used to indicate that one does not know the answer to a question and that one is surprised or irritated to be questioned: “Is he her boyfriend then?” “Don’t ask me!”

for the asking

Used to indicate that something can be easily obtained: the job was his for the asking
More example sentences
  • Upgrades are often available just for the asking.
  • They are within our grasp, practically for the asking.
  • Every type of vacation experience, every form of recreation, every convenience is available for the asking at Lake Tahoe.

I ask you!

informal An exclamation of shock or disapproval intended to elicit agreement from one’s listener: A toaster for a birthday present? I ask you!
More example sentences
  • The story's an abecedary (an abecedary, I ask you!) with the main characters A, N (the narrator) and Z (Zaccheus).
  • Why otherwise would sales charts (sales charts, I ask you!) become the obsessional focus for interactions between pop and society?
  • ‘Even on her Bachelorette Party,’ exclaimed Emily, ‘I ask you!’

if you ask me

informal Used to emphasize that a statement is one’s personal opinion: if you ask me, it’s just an excuse for laziness
More example sentences
  • I dunno, they sound like reasonable people to cast if you ask me.
  • She's lovely in person, but her speeches are a bit boring if you ask me.
  • It's already happening, if you ask me, right now, with this example.



Pronunciation: /ˈaskər/
Example sentences
  • I crossed the recently pedestrianized town centre on a hunt for cat equipment, and saw two competing groups of question askers.
  • The asker is a middle-aged woman, and one of about 50 people who turned up to the Edmonton Art Gallery for a guided tour of the traveling show.
  • I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that the askers of these questions are usually in a relationship that's dead in the water but maybe haven't admitted it to themselves yet.


Old English āscian, āhsian, āxian.

  • Like many short but vital words, ask is Old English. Variations of the saying ask a silly question and you get a silly answer date back to at least the 13th century. It has a biblical source, ‘Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit’, from the Book of Proverbs. A big ask is a difficult demand to make of someone, a lot to ask. The phrase originates in Australia, where it was first recorded in 1987, but has spread quickly into British English, and is a favourite of sports players, commentators, and writers, as in the example ‘If we get four wins we will make the play-offs, but it's a big ask’ (Bolton Evening News).

Words that rhyme with ask

bask, cask, flask, Krasnoyarsk, mask, masque, task

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ask

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