with suspicion, mistrust, or disapproval: He looked askance at my offer.
with a side glance; sidewise; obliquely.

Also a·skant [uh-skant] /əˈskænt/.

Origin of askance

First recorded in 1520–30; earlier a scanche, a sca(u)nce; of obscure origin

Synonyms for askance Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for askance

Historical Examples of askance

  • When John Kenyon entered his office, he thought the clerk looked at him askance.

  • 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.

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

British Dictionary definitions for askance


askant (əˈskænt)


with an oblique glance
with doubt or mistrust

Word Origin for askance

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

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

Idioms and Phrases with askance


see look askance.

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