View synonyms for answer


[ an-ser, ahn- ]


  1. a spoken or written reply or response to a question, request, letter, etc.:

    He sent an answer to my letter promptly.

    Synonyms: riposte

  2. a correct response to a question asked to test one's knowledge.
  3. an equivalent or approximation:

    The band tried to be the French answer to the Beatles.

  4. an action serving as a reply or response:

    The answer was a volley of fire.

  5. a solution to a problem, especially in mathematics.
  6. a reply to a charge or accusation.

    Synonyms: plea, defense

  7. Law. a pleading in which a party responds to the opponent's statement of position, especially the defendant's reply to the plaintiff's complaint.
  8. Music. the entrance of a fugue subject, usually on the dominant, either slightly altered or transposed exactly after each presentation in the tonic.

verb (used without object)

  1. to speak or write in response; make answer; reply.
  2. to respond by an act or motion:

    He answered with a nod.

    The champion answered with a right to the jaw.

  3. to act or suffer in consequence of (usually followed by for ).
  4. to be or declare oneself responsible or accountable (usually followed by for ):

    I will answer for his safety.

  5. to be satisfactory or serve (usually followed by for ):

    His cane answered for a baseball bat.

  6. to conform; correspond (usually followed by to ):

    The prisoner answered to the description issued by the police.

verb (used with object)

  1. to speak or write in response to; reply to:

    to answer a person;

    to answer a question.

  2. to act or move in response to:

    Answer the doorbell. We answered their goal with two quick goals of our own.

  3. to solve or present a solution of.
  4. to serve or fulfill:

    This will answer the purpose.

  5. to discharge (a responsibility, claim, debt, etc.).
  6. to conform or correspond to; be similar or equivalent to:

    This dog answers your description.

  7. to atone for; make amends for.
  8. to reply or respond favorably to:

    I would like to answer your request but am unable to do so.

verb phrase

  1. to reply impertinently or rudely:

    Well-behaved children do not answer back when scolded.


/ ˈɑːnsə /


  1. a reply, either spoken or written, as to a question, request, letter, or article
  2. a reaction or response in the form of an action

    drunkenness was his answer to disappointment

  3. a solution, esp of a mathematical problem
  4. law
    1. a party's written reply to his opponent's interrogatories
    2. (in divorce law) the respondent's written reply to the petition
  5. a musical phrase that follows the subject of a fugue, reproducing it a fifth higher or a fourth lower


  1. when tr, may take a clause as object to reply or respond (to) by word or act

    he answered

    to answer a question

    he answered that he would come

    to answer the door

  2. tr to reply correctly to; solve or attempt to solve

    I could answer only three questions

  3. intrusually foll byto to respond or react (to a stimulus, command, etc)

    the steering answers to the slightest touch

  4. tr to pay off (a debt, obligation, etc); discharge
  5. when intr, often foll by for to meet the requirements (of); be satisfactory (for); serve the purpose (of)

    this will answer his needs

    this will answer for a chisel

  6. when intr, often foll by to to match or correspond (esp in the phrase answer (or answer to ) the description )
  7. tr to give a defence or refutation of (a charge) or in (an argument)

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Other Words From

  • answer·er noun
  • answer·less adjective
  • un·answered adjective
  • un·answer·ing adjective
  • well-answered adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of answer1

First recorded before 900; Middle English andswerien, Old English andswerian, andswarian, derivative of andswaru “an answer,” equivalent to and- “opposite, facing” ( and, along ) + unattested Germanic swarō, derivative of swear

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Word History and Origins

Origin of answer1

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

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Idioms and Phrases

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

More idioms and phrases containing answer

  • know all the answers
  • take no for an answer

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

The BLS says there is no right answer for when to start counting.

The answer is we’d have to do something about burning fossil fuels.

For Shu Yang, professor of material science at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Center for Analyzing Evolved Structures as Optimized Products, the answer to this urban heat problem is biomimetic design on the city scale.

Looking at the corresponding answers can also tell you about what kind of content Google considers worthy of surfacing as well as who your competitors may be.

The answer to this age-old question could reveal a little bit about your personality, some research shows.

We need to recover and grow the idea that the proper answer to bad speech is more and better speech.

Take the chief metric of the war in Vietnam—body counts, which ultimately did not answer whether the strategy was working.

This reporter knocked at the Wilkins home on Tuesday morning but received neither an answer nor the business end of a shotgun.

They already know the answer, but they know by feigning ignorance they can create all this debate about it.

The best answer Sutton offers is a statement by the preacher John Roach Stratton back in 1918.

The Goliath wouldn't answer; the Dublin said the force was coming off, and we could not get into touch with the soldiers at all.

I stooped down and asked him how he felt himself, but he made no answer, and evidently did not recollect me.

To answer the last question, Why people are not equally supplied?

The sailors were all in amazement, and asked me a thousand questions, which I had no inclination to answer.

Hys ignored the acid tone of her answer and sat down on the couch next to them.


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How Do You Spell Answer?

Spelling tips for answer

The word answer is hard to spell because the w is silent. Answer is pronounced [ an-ser ]. 

How to spell answer: First, remember that answer has a silent w. To remember that you should place the silent w immediately after the s, remember that you can abbreviate silent w as sw.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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