Definition of ask in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɑːsk/


1 [reporting verb] Say something in order to obtain an answer or some information: [with object and clause]: I asked her what she meant [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.
enquire (of), query, want to know, question, put a question to, interrogate, quiz, cross-question, cross-examine, catechize
informal grill, pump, give the third degree to
put, put forward, pose, raise, submit, propose, seek/get the answer to
1.1 [no object] (ask around) Talk to different people in order to find out something: 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 or Scottish for) British Enquire about the health or well-being of: if I see him I’ll tell him you were asking after him
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] Say to (someone) that one wants them 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, appeal to, apply to, petition, call on, entreat, beg, implore, exhort, urge, enjoin, importune, pray, solicit, beseech, plead with, sue, supplicate;
seek, put in for, call for, crave
2.1 [with clause] Say that one wants permission to do something: she asked if she could move in [with infinitive]: he asked to see the officer involved [with object]: you should have asked my permission first
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) Say that one wants to speak to: when I arrived I asked for Katrina
More example sentences
  • One French client asks for a Canadian airman because he ‘prefers the [Québécois] accent.’
2.3Say that one wants (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 she asked him round for a drink
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, have someone over/round, summon;
request the pleasure of someone's company
3.1 (ask someone along) Invite someone to join one on a group 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 on a date: a few boys asked her out but never the right ones
More 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]
1US 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.
2 [with adjective] informal A demand or situation that requires a specified degree of effort or commitment: it is a big ask for him to go and play 90 minutes it was a tough ask, but they delivered
More example sentences
  • It's always a big ask, and cases against the powerful are difficult cases, but that's what courts are for, and it's the responsibility of those who are there to enforce the law to take on difficult cases.
  • I have got another year of my degree to go, and I know playing professional rugby and doing my degree would be a big ask.
  • I don't want to go into the game in a negative frame of mind but we have to be realistic and admit it will be a big ask to get two points off Leeds.



ask me another

informal Used to indicate that one does not know the answer to a question: ‘What do they quarrel about?’ queried Ruth. ‘Ask me another!’

be asking for trouble (or it)

informal Behave in a way that is likely to result in difficulty for oneself: it would simply be asking for trouble for me to spend the night here
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 has no idea of the answer to a question: ‘Is he her boyfriend then?’ ‘Don’t ask me!’

for the asking

Used to indicate that someone can easily have something if they want it: 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: ringing me up on Christmas Day, 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: /ˈɑːskə/
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, of West Germanic origin.

  • 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

Line breaks: ask

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