Definition of ask in English:



  • 1reporting 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’
    • ‘There's a simple way to avoid having to ask or answer that question.’
    • ‘Many obstacles are encountered when asking and answering questions about how to care for patients.’
    • ‘I have no care plan that I am aware of, when I once asked about it I was given a vague answer about not everyone having one.’
    • ‘We'd be asked sort of general questions, and then asked to ramble answers that might one day be useful.’
    • ‘The next morning my consultant asked about events during the night, and I mentioned the referral.’
    • ‘He hadn't answered her when she asked if he had been okay, just stood up and walked away.’
    • ‘She was willing to do anything if she'd get some answers and he stopped asking all these questions.’
    • ‘As I have said if he doesn't like my answers, he should ask better questions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Huge questions have to be asked about the whole principle of collecting and managing such a fund.’
    • ‘Questions are being asked about whether this was coincidence or conspiracy.’
    • ‘There is an old adage in survey work - the questions you ask determine the answers you get.’
    • ‘He told him certain questions that might be asked about their relationship.’
    • ‘Questions that shareholders are asking require urgent answers.’
    • ‘is a good question to ask, and the answer tells us something important.’
    • ‘It was a simple question that asked whether Parliament should have another look at these laws.’
    • ‘In such a structure, questions will be asked about whose interests are best being served.’
    • ‘Of course, questions should be asked about past maintenance, but that will not solve the hazard posed here and now.’
    • ‘We've seem them fritter away hours of valuable time asking and answering trivial questions that could easily have been settled by a phone call or two.’
    enquire, enquire of, query, want to know, question, put a question to, interrogate, quiz, cross-question, cross-examine, catechize
    put, put forward, pose, raise, submit, propose, get the answer to, seek the answer to
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1ask aroundno object Talk to different people in order to find out something.
      ‘there are fine meals to be had if you ask around’
      • ‘I have been asking around to see if anyone has seen two white fantail doves.’
      • ‘After much asking around, he managed to find out where the man lived.’
      • ‘In order to keep her new identity a tight secret it bans journalists from even asking around for information about her new name or whereabouts, let alone publishing the details.’
      • ‘I started asking around among those friends who had literature degrees, English degrees, well-read others, but have found no one who can tell me the name of any myth about a horse eating nothing but rose petals.’
      • ‘We asked around a lot and people told us that the clothes and so on seem to date back to the early 50s.’
      • ‘I started asking around for a ride up to Jerusalem and got lucky on the second try.’
      • ‘I have been asking around and trying to find out exactly when all this started but no-one seems to know and we're not being told anything.’
      • ‘I have put up a few adverts and asked around and even had a few calls from interested people but I want to find the right person to take some of my best customers on.’
      • ‘He said: ‘I'm now asking around, trying to get hold of a tandem to hire.’’
      • ‘At the same time, I am quietly asking around and looking into other opportunities.’
      • ‘When someone takes something from your desk, why do they wait until you start asking around to tell you that they have it?’
      • ‘This week I needed to get some commonly used cells from a few different places, so this involved asking around.’
      • ‘After asking around, I found out it happens all the time. A friend of the family lost £400 and someone else got a bill for £700.’
      • ‘They asked around and at least five different people have seen him.’
      • ‘You can invent your own roving itinerary, circumnavigating by jeep or bike or kayak, camping on the beach or overnighting in the host homes you'll find in most villages just by asking around.’
      • ‘Start your research by asking around and reading guidebooks to get together some ideas.’
      • ‘At first, I thought it was just our area but I've been asking around and apparently, almost all of the areas (if not all) are suffering this drought.’
      • ‘She thought the dog had been dumped there and was asking around all week if anyone had lost a dog.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We have got a lot of people asking around and the local youngsters are upset about it so they are making inquiries too.’
    2. 1.2ask after" or Scottish "ask forBritish no object Enquire about the health or well-being of.
      ‘if I see him I'll tell him you were asking after him’
      • ‘I also know someone who I considered one of my better friends knows I was attacked, because his girlfriend has been asking after my welfare, but he hasn't been in touch at all.’
      • ‘She wasn't saying much today, other than to ask after my wife and baby.’
      • ‘He'd sometimes send a brief message asking after his father's health.’
      • ‘She asks after him every two minutes; but how do you explain something like that to a child?’
      • ‘The look she gave her was full of understanding and Diana felt that Virginia wasn't asking after her health.’
      • ‘If they don't see me for a while, they ask after me.’
      • ‘Many of his regular customers who had known him for years asked after him and wished him well.’
      • ‘I have had lots of people stopping me to ask after him.’
      • ‘Flat cap in hand, the foreign secretary strides from doorstep to corner shop, greeting many voters by name and asking after their fathers.’
      • ‘I would like to thank everyone who phoned to ask after Matt.’
      • ‘I asked after his dad, off on holiday in Majorca, and his uncle, who is the guy that's going to do my new roof for me.’
      • ‘Crammed into eight lines in block capitals, the postcards ask after family and friends and wish a happy birthday to a much-loved brother.’
      • ‘He had told her that the girls had been around to ask after her.’
      • ‘Although rivalry was intense between the two clubs, she always showed an interest in how my children were getting on and always asked after them.’
      • ‘He asked after my parents and enquired into the wellbeing of my wife and kids.’
      • ‘It was unbelievable, everyone was asking after her.’
      • ‘I fight the urge to ask after the health of his son.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So I don't feel like I'm missing out on any of that- and here's where the complaining comes in- I just hate people constantly asking after my well-being, like it's oh so sad that I don't have any big holiday plans.’
      • ‘Instead she went to the village barber who acted as the local surgeon and asked after the health of her opponent.’
  • 2with 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’
    • ‘I made some nice posters, and stood in the foyer of student buildings asking people to sign petitions for an equal age of consent.’
    • ‘We didn't close at any point, we simply put up a sign asking people to bear with us while we had the window repaired.’
    • ‘Have you been contacted by anyone asking you to sign up for a pyramid-type savings scheme or have you already joined one?’
    • ‘He wasn't asked to plea during his appearance today and did not ask for bail.’
    • ‘I did not understand the logic of asking me to apply only to say no, but there we are.’
    • ‘In front was a sign asking all visitors to report to reception.’
    • ‘If you do get the promise of a concession by special request, ask for written confirmation from the airline.’
    • ‘My cohort noticed a sign asking people to please not put cigarettes out on the carpet.’
    • ‘To continue the footballing analogy, it is like asking footballers to sign a formal declaration before each game that they will not cheat and will always play fair.’
    • ‘If you would like to join up for these lessons, you are asked to register for the course as soon as possible.’
    • ‘If you're asking users to register for a newsletter, ask for only an email address.’
    • ‘This will give you a separate e-mail address you can give any time any site asks you to register.’
    • ‘It was a really secretive process and I wasn't even sure who I was applying to until they asked me to come in for an interview!’
    • ‘When he came to take up his position he was asked to sign a code of conduct which bound him to agreeing in public to any decision taken by the board.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A sign has been erected asking people to take away any rubbish from the graveyard and not to just dump it in the corner as was previously the situation.’
    • ‘Many of them have put up signs in their windows asking drivers to cut their speed to no more than 20 mph.’
    • ‘I think when your boss asks you to sign a waiver, that's not a voluntary action on your part.’
    • ‘If you can make this commitment we ask you to sign the registration sheet that is available at the back of church.’
    • ‘They have signs all over asking customers to return their trays to the collection point, which is fine.’
    • ‘A part of the money has been spent on signs asking people not to feed the birds.’
    request, demand, appeal to, apply to, petition, call on, entreat, beg, implore, exhort, urge, enjoin, importune, pray, solicit, beseech, plead with, sue, supplicate
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1with 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’
      • ‘But this story about Tivo asking the FCC for permission to add new features is changing my mind.’
      • ‘I would have preferred asking Perla for permission rather than Amina.’
      • ‘It was a five minute time where the two people pretty much faced off; no asking permission from the speaker, just going at it.’
      • ‘Bury council is also demanding people ask permission to film or take photographs, but has so far not extended the ban to phones.’
      • ‘You find yourself asking permission to do things all the time.’
      • ‘The thought of asking permission to beat a prisoner senseless is so far down the line of probability that it doesn't raise a flicker on his radar screen.’
      • ‘Jenny - what woman in their right mind would ask her ex for permission to date her next boyfriend?’
      • ‘Bruno takes honey from a beehive, which teaches him the importance of asking permission and of giving to others.’
      • ‘Without waiting on permission or asking his Commanding Officer he led two hundred men.’
      • ‘I knew it was about my father, but it felt like she was asking me permission to ask something about him.’
      • ‘We also need to ask the chief's permission to kayak down his tribe's river.’
      • ‘Don't ask others for permission, as they'll often express their own fears, with the best of intentions.’
      • ‘As if I couldn't tell by his serious expression, he let himself in instead of asking permission.’
    2. 2.2ask forno object Say that one wants to speak to.
      ‘when I arrived I asked for Katrina’
      • ‘An elderly man answered the door and, when Setisia asked for Astell, requested her name.’
      • ‘Natasha, forcing a sly smile, asks for the host.’
      • ‘One French client asks for a Canadian airman because he ‘prefers the [Québécois] accent.’’
    3. 2.3 Say that one wants (a specified amount) as a price for selling something.
      ‘he was asking £250 for the guitar’
      • ‘This isn't a greedy seller asking a ridiculous amount no one will pay.’
      • ‘On the way out, it occurred to me that if they sold everything on that table for the prices they were asking, they would probably make up a third of the film's budget.’
      • ‘I would probably have taken half the asked amount just to get the thing off my hands.’
      • ‘No, Olympic Plaza isn't Broadway, but then this Guys and Dolls isn't asking Broadway prices, either.’
      • ‘It's not even as if the price America was being asked was so awful.’
      • ‘However, he felt the price residents were being asked to pay was too high.’
      • ‘They haggled for a lower price than that being asked and got the wreck for probably not too much more than it was worth.’
      • ‘But art market sources say he's selling the heart of his collection - and asking high prices.’
      • ‘We've noticed that houses are staying on the market longer, and that they are often selling for prices below asking.’
    4. 2.4 Expect or demand (something) of someone.
      ‘it's asking a lot, but could you look through Billy's things?’
      • ‘I completely fail to understand how and why anyone would think the voiceover-free version is confusing - it's not a film that asks a huge amount of its audience.’
      • ‘To return to her own ‘world’ seemed to be asking the highest price of her one could.’
      • ‘Is it also too much to ask that album reviews provide some idea of what to expect from the record in question?’
      • ‘The Notice of Appeal also asks this court in effect to hold that the defence of qualified privilege in each of its forms has no real prospect of success.’
      • ‘It will be asking a lot of Maxwell to expect a fourth monumental effort in Friday's semi-final against Nepal.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Nobody is any longer asking them to apologise for the past: the demands for apology are now focused on the government.’
      • ‘With her injury still clearly troubling her, it is asking a lot to expect her to come 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.’
      • ‘Of course, it would be asking an awful lot to expect a Gold Cup from him now but we'll see how he comes along.’
      • ‘To ask them to take something from theater or dance or music, to see the indirect sources of creativity that they could use is asking them a lot.’
      • ‘He asks an incredible amount from his viewers.’
      • ‘All members are asked to attend and new members are invited to the meeting.’
  • 3with 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’
    • ‘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, have someone round, summon
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1ask someone along Invite someone to join one on a group outing.
      ‘do you want to ask him along?’
      • ‘Similarly, he suspected that as managing director he was asked along to the second meeting too.’
      • ‘He doesn't ask me along, and I don't feel comfortable asking him if I can go if he doesn't want me to come.’
      • ‘Normally it would just be for my year, but I thought I would ask you along anyway.’
      • ‘‘You asked me along to remedy any wounds that might be inflicted upon your men - or even Adam or you,’ she said.’
      • ‘‘Leave him,’ said Blaise, just as Isis had opened her mouth to ask whether or not to ask him along.’
      • ‘I want to encourage people to ask me along, whether they want me to give a talk, or offer advice.’
      • ‘Last week Alison asked me along to a public meeting.’
      • ‘An abundance of alcohol leads the boys to let their proverbial hair down; they ask Verdu along on a summer road trip, thinking she'll never say yes.’
      • ‘Yeah, he's a great friend and all, but I just never expected that you would ask him along!’
      • ‘I don't know whether it might have been very wise, proper and dignified for the PM to have asked Latham along.’
      • ‘When word got out that they were going to ask Rick along, the staff thought it was a great idea.’
      • ‘‘Yea,’ said Ian smiling, flattered that Rich has asked him along.’
      • ‘Maybe we could ask Beth along as well, that would be fun.’
      • ‘She asked me along to make sure he didn't try anything on, and I must have stayed in there for about four hours marvelling at this great wonder of the world.’
      • ‘‘But, um, thanks for asking me along,’ she added as she passed me.’
      • ‘Nobody's calling you or asking you along to the Royal College of Art.’
      • ‘And on Friday they emailed me back and asked me along.’
      • ‘I concluded that I was asked along as a member of the ladies football fraternity, and so thought it best to bring a colleague.’
      • ‘Jonathan looked at her with an embarrassed smile, ‘I actually I was considering asking you along but couldn't work up the nerve.’’
      • ‘You told him you'd asked Ally along on Sunday?’
    2. 3.2ask someone out Invite someone out on a date.
      ‘a few boys asked her out but never the right ones’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If he asks you out on a date, say no, sorry, you have a boyfriend and aren't interested.’
      • ‘As one candidate said, ‘It's like asking someone out on a date, and on top of that, they pay.’’
      • ‘I don't even really know if he was asking me out as a date!’
      • ‘The conversation led in such a way that the only way to get to know her better was to ask her out on a date.’
      • ‘She says I have to call her as soon as Aaron asks me out on a real date.’
      • ‘She asks why he never called her after their first date, and then asks him out again.’
      • ‘So if he asks you out, you would date him, correct?’
      • ‘Have any of your customers ever asked you out on a date?’
      • ‘So, the process of asking someone out on a date can get really complex, as you are required to do it by making open statements.’
      • ‘He got her mobile number and asked her out on a date the next day.’
      • ‘The first time he said this - way back when we were freshers at Bristol University - I thought he fancied me and was asking me out on a date.’
      • ‘I'm surprised that you weren't asked out on dates every second!’
      • ‘The other Ryan, whom I'm still friends with, is asking me out on dates and telling all my friends how much he cares about me.’
      • ‘We hang out sometimes, but would it be weird to ask him out for a date?’
      • ‘Here I thought he was actually expecting me to find a gift for his mother… when he was asking me out on another date!’
      • ‘Then again, I sent a stranger a fake story in order to get him to call and ask me out on a date.’
      • ‘It's like asking someone out for a date - perseverance never hurts when it comes to getting what you want.’
      • ‘She then completely surprised me by asking me out for a second date.’
      • ‘It was foolish of me to assume he was asking me out on a date.’


  • 1informal with adjective 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If we get four wins we will make the play-offs, but it's a big ask.’
    • ‘Our staff and volunteers aim to grant a wish for every day of the year, which is a big ask.’
  • 2US A request, especially for a donation.

    ‘it was an awkward ask for more funding’
    1. 2.1 The price at which an item, especially a financial security, is offered for sale.
      as modifier ‘ask prices for bonds’


  • 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’
      • ‘It was always going to be controversial but to adopt such an extreme, libertarian view is biased and is asking for trouble.’
      • ‘In fact, despite talk about the powerlessness of women, this play seems to tell us that Desdemona was asking for it.’
      • ‘Forcing them out in the middle of the night is asking for trouble.’
      • ‘Of course, these kids were asking for trouble with their actions.’
      • ‘Expecting others, from different backgrounds, to adopt our own ways of doing things is asking for trouble.’
      • ‘I guess the sea air got to the stewards, but really, they were asking for trouble.’
      • ‘It is asking for trouble to stoke up the fires again.’
      • ‘For example, nobody tells a carjacking victim who drives a nice looking car that he/she was asking for trouble.’
      • ‘Any more than that and you were asking for trouble.’
      • ‘I think this sort of thing is asking for trouble.’
      • ‘To leave parking badges in the car outside your own front door, especially overnight, is asking for trouble.’
      • ‘Let's face it, passing the shears to gardeners convinced they see a shape within a tree or shrub is asking for trouble.’
      • ‘An unmanned building in an area where there is a lot of problems with unruly behaviour is asking for trouble.’
      • ‘Casting the part in real life is asking for trouble.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Well, they were asking for it, I suppose.’
      • ‘Walking in the dark is asking for trouble as the chosen path may be full of, or littered with obstacles.’
      • ‘Indeed, don't imbibe on an empty stomach, that is asking for trouble.’
      • ‘Calling yourself a writer for doing stuff that no one has ever read is asking for it, although actually, people are usually kind and interested.’
      • ‘Going budget in the jungle is asking for trouble: for every pound you save, you'll get five mosquito bites and a bout of heatstroke.’
  • 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’
      • ‘Many technology job seekers, wowed by all the hype of a labor shortage, sometimes think that a position is theirs for the asking.’
      • ‘Either on site or within a short distance, there is just about any kind of sporting activity you could imagine, yours for the asking.’
      • ‘The store has an 80-page catalog of books, computer software and videos, free for the asking.’
      • ‘Whilst we sometimes feel as though we live globally in the proximity of a timebomb, artistic revelation is there for the asking.’
      • ‘In most campaigns, strong operational managers can be yours for the asking.’
      • ‘Virtually every manufacturer has well-presented catalogs just for the asking.’
      • ‘Solar energy is not to be had for the asking in a cloud forest.’
      • ‘What this means is there are free books to read for the asking!’
      • ‘Expedition of hearings in this Court is not available for the asking.’
      • ‘Now you have the choice of coloured lenses, and if you want blue, green, grey, or hazel eyes to match that tinted hair, it is yours for the asking.’
      • ‘They are within our grasp, practically for the asking.’
      • ‘Every variety I could think of was there for the asking.’
      • ‘Every type of vacation experience, every form of recreation, every convenience is available for the asking at Lake Tahoe.’
      • ‘Upgrades are often available just for the asking.’
      • ‘This almost always means advertising, the bane of readers' existence, but it's the reason most content on the net remains free for the asking.’
      • ‘It is ours for the asking, at any time and in any place!’
      • ‘Consequently, there's a lot of useful information here for the asking.’
      • ‘It is free for the asking, contains good tutorials and sample models, and was designed to be accessible.’
      • ‘This sounds as if promotion was hers for the asking.’
      • ‘If you're willing to look, many of these items are in construction-site trash bins free for the asking.’
  • 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!’
      • ‘Why otherwise would sales charts (sales charts, I ask you!) become the obsessional focus for interactions between pop and society?’
      • ‘The story's an abecedary (an abecedary, I ask you!) with the main characters A, N (the narrator) and Z (Zaccheus).’
      • ‘‘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’
      • ‘Fair enough, a bit overkill if you ask me, but you can see the logic.’
      • ‘Now there is a bit of freedom when wearing boxers, too much if you ask me!’
      • ‘She's lovely in person, but her speeches are a bit boring if you ask me.’
      • ‘I dunno, they sound like reasonable people to cast if you ask me.’
      • ‘It's not so much the money that causes stress, if you ask me, it's the things we do to get it.’
      • ‘In jest or not, this is not particularly sporting if you ask me.’
      • ‘I'm not jumping to conclusions, but this looks suspicious if you ask me.’
      • ‘Any sport where you bleed as a matter of course is a bit silly, if you ask me.’
      • ‘It's already happening, if you ask me, right now, with this example.’
      • ‘These evasive tactics have saved many a relationship for the last many years, but now things have gone out of hand if you ask me.’
      • ‘That is a pretty ugly vehicle if you ask me, but I like the musical score for that advertisement.’
      • ‘All in all, the book has a cartoony quality to it, but that's to be expected and encouraged, if you ask me.’
      • ‘There's a few more jockeys that need waking up at dawn if you ask me.’
      • ‘Anyone who thinks they're unreasonable is being unreasonable themselves, if you ask me.’
      • ‘It seems like a shifty way to completely screw your computer up if you ask me.’
      • ‘I still feel we were robbed, but what can you do - it's all politics if you ask me.’
      • ‘The post only got a couple of comments, but let me tell you, the girl looked pretty fine if you ask me.’
      • ‘The river has been coming back up all week - much nicer that way, if you ask me.’
      • ‘We've done very well without them for hundreds of years, if you ask me.’
      • ‘Now I don't want to go off on a rant here, but if you ask me, this proposal doesn't go far enough.’
      for my part, for my own part, for myself, according to my way of thinking, to my mind, in my estimation, as far as i am concerned, in my opinion, in my view, in my own opinion, in my own view, from my own point of view, from where i stand, from my standpoint, as i see it, if you ask me, for my money, in my book
      View synonyms


Old English āscian, āhsian, āxian, of West Germanic origin.