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Avoid these words. Seriously.


[uh-skans] /əˈskæns/
with suspicion, mistrust, or disapproval:
He looked askance at my offer.
with a side glance; sidewise; obliquely.
Also, askant
[uh-skant] /əˈskænt/ (Show IPA)
Origin of askance
First recorded in 1520-30; earlier a scanche, a sca(u)nce; of obscure origin
1. skeptically, suspiciously. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for askance
Historical Examples
  • When John Kenyon entered his office, he thought the clerk looked at him askance.

    A Woman Intervenes Robert Barr
  • Claude, who was now growing embarrassed, had examined the girl, askance.

    His Masterpiece Emile Zola
  • The lanky Sucatash looked at him askance, catching the note of sentiment.

    Louisiana Lou William West Winter
  • Men were apt to look at him askance, half doubtful, half-indignant.

    The Trimming of Goosie James Hopper
  • "You speak of the castle as if you knew about it," said the landlady, eyeing her askance.

  • Men pretending virtues as relentless as his own were often inclined to eye him askance.

    Erik Dorn

    Ben Hecht
  • They eyed him askance, and eyed each other as they fell behind.

    Two Sides of the Face Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • If the people look at me askance, I can't expect any better.

    Heidi Johanna Spyri
  • They looked at him askance and then at each other, significantly.

    Rabbi and Priest

    Milton Goldsmith
  • As he bent his head she looked at me askance, and I thought she blushed.

British Dictionary definitions for askance


with an oblique glance
with doubt or mistrust
Word Origin
C16: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for askance

1520s, "sideways, asquint," of obscure origin. OED has separate listings for askance and obsolete Middle English askance(s) and no indication of a connection, but Barnhart and others derive the newer word from the older one. The Middle English word, recorded early 14c. as ase quances and found later in Chaucer, meant "in such a way that; even as; as if;" and as an adverb "insincerely, deceptively." It has been analyzed as a compound of as and Old French quanses (pronounced "kanses") "how if," from Latin quam "how" + si "if."

The E[nglish] as is, accordingly, redundant, and merely added by way of partial explanation. The M.E. askances means "as if" in other passages, but here means, "as if it were," i.e. "possibly," "perhaps"; as said above. Sometimes the final s is dropped .... [Walter W. Skeat, glossary to Chaucer's "Man of Law's Tale," 1894]
Also see discussion in Leo Spitzer, "Anglo-French Etymologies," Philological Quarterly 24.23 (1945), and see OED entry for askance (adv.) for discussion of the mysterious ask- word cluster in English. Other guesses about the origin of askance include Old French a escone, from past participle of a word for "hidden;" Italian a scancio "obliquely, slantingly;" or that it is a cognate of askew.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with askance


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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