Idioms

    answer the helm, Nautical. (of a vessel) to maneuver or remain steady according to the position of the rudder.

Origin of answer

before 900; Middle English andswerien, Old English andswerian, andswarian derivative of andswaru an answer, equivalent to and- opposite, facing (cf. and, along) + Germanic *swarō, derivative of swear

Related forms

Synonym study

1. Answer, rejoinder, reply, response, retort all mean words used to meet a question, remark, charge, etc. An answer is a return remark: an answer giving the desired information. A rejoinder is a quick, usually clever answer or remark made in reply to another's comment, not to a question. Reply usually refers to a direct or point-by-point response to a suggestion, proposal, question, or the like: a reply to a letter. A response often suggests an answer to an appeal, exhortation, etc., or an expected or fixed reply: a response to inquiry; a response in a church service. A retort implies a keen, prompt answer, especially one that turns a remark upon the person who made it: a sharp retort.

Word story

In English, the verb answer derives from the noun, though both are equally old and occur in Old English translations of the Gospels. The Old English noun is andswaru “response to a question,” composed of the Old English prefix and- “against, contra-” and -swer with two meanings: the legal sense of “a swearing on oath, as in giving testimony” and the neutral, nonlegal sense of “a reply, a response to a question.” In both its legal and general senses, Old English andswaru parallels the Latin verb respondēre, originally a legal term meaning “to make a formal response,” and then used in the general sense “to answer, reply.”
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for answer to

answer

/ (ˈɑːnsə) /

noun


verb

Word Origin for answer

Old English andswaru an answer; related to Old Frisian ondser, Old Norse andsvar; see swear
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

Idioms and Phrases with answer to (1 of 2)

answer to

Explain or justify something to someone, as in If Mary doesn't help us finish this project, she'll have to answer to the boss. This expression was at first used mainly for replying to legal charges. [c. a.d. 950]


Idioms and Phrases with answer to (2 of 2)

answer

In addition to the idioms beginning with answer

  • answer back
  • answer for
  • answer to

also see:

  • know all the answers
  • take no for an answer

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