Definition of answer in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈansər/


1A thing said, written, or done to deal with or as a reaction to a question, statement, or situation: he knocked and entered without waiting for an answer
More example sentences
  • How can these people give anything but the expected answers in such situations?
  • The short answer is that this situation really has nothing to do with you.
  • He was unprepared and without an answer, and the situation suddenly seemed awkward.
reply, response, rejoinder, reaction;
retort, riposte
informal comeback
1.1A thing written or said in reaction to a question in a test or quiz: write your answers on a postcard
More example sentences
  • Just answer the following question and write your answer on a postcard.
  • She wrote ridiculous answers on a history test so she would get an F.
  • Dyslexic people get more time, as they find it more difficult to read the question and write the answer.
1.2The correct solution to a question in a test or quiz: the answer is 280°
More example sentences
  • I loved the extra cross references, summaries, and test questions complete with the correct answers.
  • This test gives you the correct answers after each question and teaches the tricks for answering smarter on the next test!
  • Players are then tasked to pick the correct answer from a list of four potential solutions.
1.3A solution to a problem or dilemma: the answer to poverty and unemployment is a properly funded range of services
More example sentences
  • The smallpox dilemma has no simple answers, and making the correct decision may, literally, be a matter of life and death.
  • I wish I could conclude this column with a conclusion, but there are no easy answers or solutions.
  • There are no miracle solutions, no magical answers, no easy everybody-wins way out.
1.4 [in singular] (answer to) A thing or person that imitates or fulfills the same role as something or someone else: the press called her Britain’s answer to Marilyn Monroe
More example sentences
  • The film has an amazing amount of high gloss energy, and it feels like an early '80s answer to A Hard Day's Night.
  • Like the French Canadian answer to Sesame Street, Caillou intersperses animated stories with puppet shows and live-action shots of dancing kids.
  • To me he is the British answer to Chekhov.
1.5 Law The defendant’s reply to the plaintiff’s charges.
Example sentences
  • Every day, proof of the collision is held to be sufficient to call on the two defendants for an answer.
  • Well, it means that the defendant to the suit is called on to make answer.


1 [reporting verb] Say or write something to deal with or as a reaction to someone or something: [with direct speech]: “Of course I can,” she answered [with clause]: she answered that she would take nothing but the ring [with object]: she tried to answer his questions truthfully I didn’t answer him [no object]: Steve was about to answer, but Hazel spoke first
More example sentences
  • When nobody answered, he wrote on the board ‘unfair treatment’.
  • ‘Well, Jason, it seems as if Miss Anders was one of the apartment owners,’ he answered, writing my name down on the pad of paper.
  • That was a bit funny, and it was interesting to see people's reactions when she answered all the questions that were being thrown at her.
reply, respond, make a rejoinder, rejoin;
retort, riposte, return
1.1 [with object] Provide the required responses to (a test or quiz): answer the questions below for a chance to win a vacation
More example sentences
  • As well as being a fascinating read, it is also a fantastic source of general knowledge and a great help in answering quiz questions and solving crossword puzzles.
  • Many arrested serial killers took part in the test and answered the question correctly.
  • I got exempted from a quiz just for answering a question and then in math, we were going to have a chapter test, but the teacher told us that she thought we were all ready to move on.
1.2 [no object] (answer back) Respond impudently or disrespectfully to someone, especially when being criticized or told to do something: one couldn’t argue with a parent; one couldn’t answer back [with object]: Mary resisted the temptation to answer her mother back
More example sentences
  • No swearing, no talking in class, no answering back, no criticising the town or anyone in the town, just behave, please, Tenni, would you?
  • Ryan opened his mouth to answer back again, but was interrupted by the arrival of his brother, who motioned me to follow him into Ryan's bedroom.
  • That gets you starting to feel angry that she commented on you like that so openly, you open your mouth to answer back but then your parents come in.
2 [with object] Act in reaction to (a sound such as a telephone ringing or a knock or ring on a door): David answered the door [no object]: she called Edward’s house, hoping he would answer
More example sentences
  • Over the two weeks, she will answer knocks to her door and allow people to handle the relic and pray in her house.
  • I knocked and knocked, and nobody answered the door.
  • He rang the bell, waiting only seconds before the housekeeper answered the door.
3 [no object] (answer to) Be responsible or report to (someone): I answer to the assistant commissioner
More example sentences
  • I answer to the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Secretary of State.
  • He answers to the attorney general, the panel of judges and ultimately the president.
  • He answers directly to the vice president of operations or the general manager.
report to, work for/under, be subordinate to, be accountable to, be answerable to, be responsible to
4 [with object] Defend oneself against (a charge, accusation, or criticism): he said he would return to Spain to answer all charges
More example sentences
  • He was hauled before the Board of Control to answer charges over his behaviour.
  • A warrant for his arrest was issued yesterday after he failed to attend court on Friday to answer a new charge of shoplifting.
  • He was found to be unfit to answer charges because he was suffering from a brain-wasting disease.
rebut, defend oneself against
4.1 [no object] (answer to) Be required to explain or justify oneself to (someone): you will have the police to answer to
More example sentences
  • But the new leadership is based on choice, answering to nothing other than its own justification.
  • I'm happy to say that I answer to you and not to the media.
  • A pastor doesn’t look to do the easy or popular thing, for he answers to God alone for his decisions and actions.
4.2 [no object] (answer for) Be responsible or to blame for: the dust mite has a lot to answer for, especially if you are asthmatic
More example sentences
  • If rules of behaviour are flouted, those responsible must answer for their actions.
  • I guess the lesson here is that if you really have integrity, and your opinion is truly your own, and you aren't trying to front or pander, then you wouldn't try to ditch the responsibility of answering for it later.
  • Society has a lot to answer for, we all have a responsibility to children.
pay, be punished, suffer;
make amends, make reparation, atone
be accountable, be responsible, be liable, take the blame
informal take the rap
5 [with object] Be suitable for fulfilling (a need); satisfy: entrepreneurship is necessary to answer the needs of national and international markets [no object]: nothing short of that would answer
More example sentences
  • Freight transport by inland waterways is particularly suitable to answer Russia's needs.
  • It answers their need for an excuse to go straight, while not at the same time surrendering to the morality of a society they believe has wronged them deeply.
  • Literary translation, especially of the great works of the past, never answers a pressing need, nor is it a competitive activity.
satisfy, meet, fulfill, fill, measure up to



answer the description of

Correspond to a description, especially one of a suspect issued by the police: he answers the description of being slightly taller than his two supposed companions
More example sentences
  • I have a number of documents in my possession which answer the description of the documents described in the subpoena.
  • Yes, but is there any finding at any stage that, as a matter of general law, Mr Downes' client answered the description of a person who had ‘the right to decide the possession, disposition and use of the vessel’ owned by her husband?
  • One can postulate that a person who is born here, has lived here all their life, has parents who are citizens, may well be a person who could not possibly answer the description of an alien.
match, fit, correspond to, be similar to

answer to (the name of)

often humorous Be called: an attractive woman answering to the name of Suzanne
More example sentences
  • The owner's children were distraught, as they had travelled as far as Wexford in search of their pet that answers to the name of Prince.
  • He answers to the name of Sam and was last seen on Sunday, September 22 in the Borris Road area.
  • The parrot, which is still missing, has red tail feathers and a blue plastic ring on his foot and answers to the name of Monty.

have (or know) all the answers

informal Be confident in one’s knowledge of something, typically unjustifiably so: it was his air of knowing all the answers that riled Mrs. Farrar
More example sentences
  • Her article is more in the nature of sharing her problems and frustrations in trying to understand the complexities of rural poverty rather than an assertion that she knows all the answers.
  • Obviously there are going to be people who know all the answers and others who don't know anything.
  • Doctors are just as much in the dark as parents and often less wise because they think they know all the answers.

in answer to

As a response to or as a result of: in answer to the stresses on modern woman, we have developed a range of beauty treatments
More example sentences
  • Her head raised in answer to what I thought had been my silence but I had apparently spoken her name.
  • For the millennium, Caroline launched a new collection called Studio, in answer to a call for more extravagant clothing.
  • Early illnesses, often erupting as if in answer to some other crisis, kept him out of school for years, and in the company of pious nannies.



Pronunciation: /ˈans(ə)rər/
Example sentences
  • Then you have technicians who get the problems that the phone answerers cannot solve.
  • If I were actually able to suggest to questioners and answerers that they keep their questions and answers succinct, question time would be over in about 20 minutes.
  • There are some queries that we answerers of questions on the story of the English language get asked more often than others.


Example sentences
  • The point of these answerless questions is that there are no answers.
  • It offers grounding, substance and confidence to live with the answerless questions posed by human suffering.
  • The answerless riddle of modern broadcasting crackled through dusty loudspeakers and across the jam-packed midway of the 33rd annual Fringe Festival.


Old English andswaru (noun), andswarian (verb), of Germanic origin; from a base shared by swear.

  • swear from Old English:

    This first meant ‘to make a solemn declaration’. The use of swear in connection with bad language came later, around the 15th century, as an extension of the idea of using a sacred name in an oath. Someone who swears a lot can be said to swear like a trooper. A trooper was originally a private soldier in a cavalry unit. By the 18th century these soldiers had developed a reputation for coarse behaviour and bad language. In his novel Pamela (1739–40), Samuel Richardson wrote: ‘She curses and storms at me like a Trooper.’ Answer (Old English) comes from the same root, and originally meant to rebut an accusation.

Words that rhyme with answer

advancer, chancer, dancer, enhancer, lancer, prancer

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: an·swer

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