ask


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  1. to put a question to; inquire of: I asked him but he didn’t answer.
  2. to request information about: to ask the way.
  3. to try to get by using words; request: to ask advice; to ask a favor.
  4. to solicit from; request of: Could I ask you a favor? Ask her for advice.
  5. to demand; expect: What price are they asking? A little silence is all I ask.
  6. to set a price of: to ask $20 for the hat.
  7. to call for; need; require: This experiment asks patience.
  8. to invite: to ask guests to dinner.
  9. Archaic. to publish (banns).

verb (used without object)

  1. to make inquiry; inquire: to ask about a person.
  2. to request or petition (usually followed by for): to ask for leniency; to ask for food.
Idioms
  1. ask for it, to risk or invite trouble, danger, punishment, etc., by persisting in some action or manner: He was asking for it by his abusive remarks.

noun Scandinavian Mythology.

  1. the first man, made by the gods from an ash tree.

verb

  1. (often foll by about) to put a question (to); request an answer (from)she asked ( him ) about God
  2. (tr) to inquire aboutshe asked him the time of the train; she asked the way
  3. (tr) to direct or put (a question)
  4. (may take a clause as object or an infinitive often foll by for) to make a request or demandshe asked ( him ) for information; they asked for a deposit
  5. (tr) to demand or expect (esp in the phrases ask a lot of, ask too much of)
  6. Also: ask out, ask over (tr) to request (a person) politely to come or go to a place; invitehe asked her to the party
  7. (tr) to need; requirethe job asks both time and patience
  8. (tr) archaic to proclaim (marriage banns)

noun

  1. a big ask or a tough ask British, Australian and NZ informal a task which is difficult to fulfil

noun

  1. Norse myth the first man, created by the gods from an ash tree
v.

Old English ascian “ask, call for an answer; make a request,” from earlier ahsian, from Proto-Germanic *aiskojan (cf. Old Saxon escon, Old Frisian askia “request, demand, ask,” Middle Dutch eiscen, Dutch eisen “to ask, demand,” Old High German eiscon “to ask (a question),” German heischen “to ask, demand”), from PIE *ais- “to wish, desire” (cf. Sanskrit icchati “seeks, desires,” Armenian aic “investigation,” Old Church Slavonic iskati “to seek,” Lithuanian ieškau “to seek”).

Form in English influenced by a Scandinavian form of the word (cf. Danish æske; the Old English would have evolved by normal sound changes into ash, esh, which was a Midlands and s.w. England dialect form). Modern dialectal ax is as old as Old English acsian and was an accepted literary variant until c.1600. Related: Asked; asking. Old English also had fregnan/frignan which carried more directly the sense of “question, inquire,” and is from PIE root *prek-, the common source of words for “ask” in most Indo-European languages (see pray). If you ask me “in my opinion” is attested from 1910. Asking price is attested from 1755.

In addition to the idioms beginning with ask

  • ask a stupid question and you’ll get a stupid answer
  • ask for
  • ask for the moon
  • ask out

, see

  • don’t ask
  • for the asking
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