ask

[ ask, ahsk ]
/ æsk, ɑsk /

verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to make inquiry; inquire: to ask about a person.
to request or petition (usually followed by for): to ask for leniency; to ask for food.

Idioms

    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.

Origin of ask

before 900; Middle English asken, axen, Old English āscian, āxian; cognate with Old Frisian āskia, Old Saxon ēscon, Old High German eiscōn (German heischen), Sanskrit icchati (he) seeks
Related formsask·er, nounun·ask·ing, adjectiveun·ask·ing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for ask for (1 of 3)

ask for


verb (preposition)

to try to obtain by requestinghe asked for help
(intr) informal to behave in a provocative manner that is regarded as inviting (trouble)she's asking for trouble; you're asking for it
Scot to ask aftertell your parents I'm asking for them

British Dictionary definitions for ask for (2 of 3)

ask

/ (ɑːsk) /

verb

noun

a big ask or a tough ask British, Australian and NZ informal a task which is difficult to fulfil
See also ask after, ask for
Derived Formsasker, noun

Word Origin for ask

Old English āscian; related to Old Frisian āskia, Old Saxon ēscon, Old High German eiscōn

British Dictionary definitions for ask for (3 of 3)

Ask

/ (ɑːsk) /

noun

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

Word Origin and History for ask for

ask


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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with ask for (1 of 2)

ask for


Also, ask for it. To persist in an action despite the likelihood that it will bring trouble on oneself, as in Speeding as much as he does, he has been asking for a ticket and Mary deserved that low grade; in effect, she asked for it by not studying. [c. 1900] Also see ask for the moon.

Idioms and Phrases with ask for (2 of 2)

ask


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