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  1. with suspicion, mistrust, or disapproval: He looked askance at my offer.
  2. with a side glance; sidewise; obliquely.
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Also a·skant [uh-skant] /əˈskænt/.

Origin of askance

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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for askant

Historical Examples

  • Thereupon Mr B. looked at me askant out of his gipsy eyes, as if he thought me an example of the evils of female education!

    The Life of George Borrow

    Herbert Jenkins

  • Gerard pondered these simple words, and eyed her askant, carrying the child with perfect ease.

  • Captain Jackman, in these few moments of pause in the talk, seemed to make an askant study of the commander, who sat opposite.

    A Tale of Two Tunnels

    William Clark Russell

  • She was desperately conscious of me, watching me askant with the curiously commingled fear and trustfulness of a child.

  • A few quiet tears followed these brave words, and Grace looked at her askant, and began to do her justice.

British Dictionary definitions for askant


askant (əˈskænt)

  1. with an oblique glance
  2. with doubt or mistrust
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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

Word Origin and History for askant



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with askant


see look askance.

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