Definition of reply in English:



  • 1[reporting verb] Say something in response to something someone has said.

    [no object] ‘he was gone before we could reply to his last remark’
    [with clause] ‘she replied that she had been sound asleep’
    [with direct speech] ‘“I'm OK—just leave me alone,” he replied’
    • ‘When trying to convince Eliza to play along with his bet, he lures her with promises of endless chocolates and just as she is about to reply to him he pops one in her mouth, silencing her.’
    • ‘‘You will never outrun that lion’ shouts the American. ‘I don't have to ’, replies the Japanese, ‘I only have to outrun you!’’
    • ‘Asked by journalist David Marr who were her favorite singers, she replied Doris Day and Dean Martin.’
    • ‘However, responding to praise often perplexes students because they don't see a need to reply to a compliment with which they are in agreement.’
    • ‘However, the government's critics have replied by urging it to make better use of empty homes.’
    • ‘He tries to get the others to talk about it but they reply something about how the weather is fine this year too.’
    • ‘Nobody from the Film Council is on hand to reply to Cox's remarks.’
    • ‘At Jekyll Island, 20% of the respondents replied this way, while the figure at Tybee was 8%.’
    • ‘He replied that writing actually saves him time because it frees up ideas and makes him into a sharper designer.’
    • ‘Ninety percent of the managers waited until Friday afternoon to reply to Brown.’
    • ‘My department replied, noting that I would like to hear more from him but that I communicated only by post.’
    • ‘All of the hypermarkets have replied by rolling out a supermarket concept measuring under 2,000 square metres.’
    • ‘And he reportedly replied that religion is the way we conduct ourselves towards others.’
    • ‘A spokesman for Nathaniel last week declined to reply to questions about its involvement with Life Energy.’
    • ‘Employers can immediately refer to replying applicants' information and determine whether an applicant is suitable for their needs.’
    • ‘So I have been hurt and bewildered and unable to reply to you.’
    • ‘To which all he can reply is, ‘True enough’ - adding to such humble minimalism only a protest that still, the leadership does have excessive faith in neo-liberal ideology.’
    • ‘No, replies the playwright, that is a few notches up from their world; a genuine kitchen sink is what they dream about having!’
    • ‘I doubt I'm entitled to go too far in this discussion but I couldn't resist the impulse to reply to the last comment.’
    • ‘At age thirteen, when Salinger was asked in a school interview what subjects he was interested in, he replied drama and tropical fish.’
    respond, answer, say in response, rejoin, return
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    1. 1.1[no object] Write back to someone one has received a letter or email from.
      ‘she replied with a long letter the next day’
      • ‘Cullen replied to the letter on April 17 stating that he was in the course of putting arrangements in place for a review of the Retail Planning Guidelines.’
      • ‘You can get email and pages on the run, and you can reply to them as well.’
      • ‘I used to write letters but they never replied, she said.’
      • ‘Co Monaghan businessman Gerard McCaughey, the chairperson of the alliance, replied to the commission's letter before Christmas.’
      • ‘‘I reply to all submissions myself, and try to offer constructive criticism,’ he explains.’
      • ‘I will check and reply to work e-mail at midnight or sunrise.’
      • ‘As my colleague, Colin Hay wrote an effective counter-critique, I decided not to reply directly.’
      • ‘I had half-intended to reply to it up there; but instead I just re-read it, and re-studied it several times.’
      • ‘Thus to reply to his caveats in cold print rather than over warm food (my preferred way of resolving differences) would seem to provoke argument where I sense none is intended.’
      • ‘Four economic historians (Calomiris, Chandler, Eichengreen, and Hatton) would have been included but failed to reply to the editor.’
      • ‘Without bothering the owner of the account, it would reply to any such message and tell the sender how much ‘postage’ he owed.’
      • ‘When I would write back to him, he would punctually reply, usually on the same day that he received my letter.’
      • ‘I have copies of the letters that I sent to her that she didn't reply to, and I thought, ‘Okay, well, it's in the book, I'm not going to get out there and defend myself because the book covers this.’’
      • ‘I have already written to him (he has not replied to me).’
      • ‘We have been so disgusted that we have involved our local MP and sent a letter of complaint, which after more than a week they have not replied to.’
      • ‘Grant Morrison doesn't reply to e-mails, but this looks a go.’
      • ‘Years old this post maybe but I feel I had to reply to it.’
      • ‘Dennehy replied to this letter on December 13, 2002.’
      • ‘Alfred Kahn replied to a letter of inquiry about Brown with an astoundingly acute appreciation of him.’
      • ‘Sorry - when I started writing that post you hadn't yet replied to the thread.’
      answer, respond
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    2. 1.2[no object] Respond by a similar action or gesture.
      ‘they replied to the shelling with a heavy mortar attack on the area’


  • 1A verbal or written answer.

    ‘I received a reply from the firm's managing director’
    ‘“No,” was the curt reply’
    • ‘Thanks for the reply, Haus, and thanks for also importing some text from the thread I linked to.’
    • ‘Instead the reply was, ‘I know very little about this term and thus have no policy.’’
    • ‘I just got a reply from the Director of the cinema, enclosing a copy of a press release.’
    • ‘They make you ask what is going on, and lead you to answers which go beyond a verbal reply.’
    • ‘His lack of a counterpoint reply can sometimes make Bam's labors seem pointless.’
    • ‘Weeks after the film had been submitted, I still couldn't get a reply from the compilation people regarding her contact info.’
    • ‘Here is a selection of some of the replies we have received so far.’
    • ‘The count returns Nicetius's messenger with an angry reply.’
    • ‘‘Get big or get out’ is a communication and hardly expectant of a reply.’
    • ‘Students then reply to that message or to a reply posted by another student.’
    • ‘You have made an idiotic reply to what it is not for me to describe as an act of greatness.’
    • ‘So perhaps it wasn't the short-termism but the uninspiring return that prompted those replies.’
    • ‘Often thoughtful, frequently lengthy, and always considered, the postings beg one to ponder options for a reply.’
    • ‘Still getting used to the place, and no time to read the huge threads or write large replies.’
    • ‘I would receive instant replies and reviews from readers in all corners of the world.’
    • ‘I e-mailed Ms. Azuma and received a reply the next day.’
    • ‘I solicited replies to these specific queries.’
    • ‘Did anyone else think, when Nate was trying to talk to Lisa about something, and she just kind of mumbled replies and/or didn't understand, how important Brenda is for Nate?’
    • ‘The Commission contacted the Belgian government a number of times about the matter, eventually receiving a reply that the decision to grant the aid had been taken in 1981 and was not new.’
    • ‘I tried sending an email through there but never got a reply.’
    answer, response, acknowledgement, rejoinder, return, reaction
    retort, riposte
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    1. 1.1 The action of answering someone or something.
      ‘I am writing in reply to your letter of June 1’
      • ‘Maybe I need another viewing of it, or maybe not, but I really like what Ebert has to say in reply to this man's question.’
      • ‘In reply to a question, George said that it was his personal view that land owned by the churches should not be exempted from a land-value tax.’
      • ‘‘And then I'll… be married ’, comes the somewhat confused reply.’
      • ‘In reply to this characterization of contemporary Nashville country music, a major commercial country promoter says that the scruffy alternative artists just don't have the talent or the drive to make it in commercial country music.’
      • ‘Hawkins' onstage reply to Graham is the first part of the legend around this film.’
      • ‘Sikes made no reply; but, pulling open the door, of which the Jew had turned the lock, dashed into the silent streets.’
      • ‘Some of them get through fourteen episodes thinking that the emails she sends them are personal to them, and in reply to the ones that they send her.’
      • ‘When the selfsame people asked me in the evenings if I was going home, I had no reply for them: it took me years to reconcile myself to the idea of calling the attic I was living in a home.’
      • ‘Never giving away security information in reply to an email/phone call (it is likely to be from a fraudster).’
      • ‘Belich's reply: ‘We are really concerned with any limits to access and the possibility that tertiary education could once again become only the realm of the privileged.’’
      • ‘Stover's reply to the lawyer was, ‘No, I will not.’’
      • ‘Some might use the ultimate moral catch-phrase ‘two wrongs don't make a right’ in reply to this situation but the fact of the matter is that two rights don't make a right, and a wrong and a right don't make a right.’
      • ‘Later he copied the tape for me and wrote the following letter in reply to my questions about the circumstances behind the recording and the similarity of Bunting and Wordsworth's accents.’
      • ‘In March 1837, writing in reply to a lost letter from Cole, Sturges echoed the artist's apprehensions and perhaps even his turns of phrase.’
      • ‘His second letter came in the late - 1980s, and was in reply to a query I had made.’
      • ‘In reply to Ely, Brown conceded that some service may be rendered by land speculation, and he cited Fisher's The Nature of Capital and Income in support of this opinion.’
      • ‘Goya's reply to the Inquisition's 1815 subpoena and list of questions about the two portraits is not known, and there continues to be uncertainty about the identity of the model.’
      • ‘Or maybe it's a pre-emptive brush-off, the formal equivalent of Kurt Vonnegut's reply when asked where he got his characters from: ‘Cincinnati,’ he said.’
      • ‘When Gerd goes on to call Brand ‘The Greatest of all,’ he can only reply, ‘I am the meanest thing that crawls on earth.’’
      • ‘Cooke's graceful reply, we're told, gave away no trade secrets.’
    2. 1.2 A response in the form of a gesture, action, or expression.
      ‘we scored the first goal and they hit a late reply’
      • ‘Hashim and Zahid claimed two wickets each. Jamia Ashrafia, in reply, could score only 109 runs for the loss of six wickets in 10 overs.’
      • ‘England needed exactly 36 off the final over to win and finished at 200-6 in reply to India's 218-4.’
      revenge, vengeance, reprisal, retribution, requital, recrimination, getting even, redress, repayment, payback
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    3. 1.3Law A plaintiff's response to the defendant's plea.
      • ‘In 1556, the British Lord Chancellor, appalled by the excessive 120 page length of a plaintiff's reply to a defendant's plea, had him fined ten pounds and imprisoned.’


Late Middle English (as a verb): from Old French replier, from Latin replicare repeat later make a reply (see replicate).