Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To put a question to: When we realized that we didn't know the answer, we asked the teacher.
  • transitive v. To seek an answer to: ask a question.
  • transitive v. To seek information about: asked directions.
  • transitive v. To make a request of: asked me for a loan.
  • transitive v. To make a request for. Often used with an infinitive or clause: ask a favor of a friend; asked to go along on the trip; asked that he be allowed to stay out late.
  • transitive v. To require or call for as a price or condition: asked ten dollars for the book.
  • transitive v. To expect or demand: ask too much of a child.
  • transitive v. To invite: asked them to dinner.
  • transitive v. Archaic To publish, as marriage banns.
  • intransitive v. To make inquiry; seek information.
  • intransitive v. To make a request: asked for help.
  • idiom it Informal To persist in an action despite the likelihood that it will result in difficulty or punishment.
  • idiom ask out To invite (someone) to a social engagement.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To look for an answer to a question by speaking.
  • v. To approach someone to do something.
  • n. An act or instance of asking.
  • n. Something asked or asked for; a request.
  • n. An eft; newt.
  • n. A lizard.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A water newt.
  • intransitive v. To request or petition; -- usually followed by for.
  • intransitive v. To make inquiry, or seek by request; -- sometimes followed by after.
  • transitive v. To request; to seek to obtain by words; to petition; to solicit; -- often with of, in the sense of from, before the person addressed.
  • transitive v. To require, demand, claim, or expect, whether by way of remuneration or return, or as a matter of necessity; as, what price do you ask?
  • transitive v. To interrogate or inquire of or concerning; to put a question to or about; to question.
  • transitive v. To invite.
  • transitive v. To publish in church for marriage; -- said of both the banns and the persons.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To request; seek by words to obtain; petition for: commonly with of, in the sense of from, before the person to whom the request is made.
  • To demand, expect, or claim: with for: as, what price do you ask, or ask for it?
  • To solicit from; request of: with a personal object, and with or without for before the thing desired: as, I ask you a great favor; to ask one for a drink of water.
  • To require as necessary or useful; demand; exact.
  • To interrogate or inquire of; put a question to.
  • To inquire concerning; seek to be informed about: as, to ask the way; to ask a question.
  • To invite: as, to ask guests to a wedding or entertainment.
  • and Ask, Inquire, Question, Interrogate. Ask is here also the generic word; it is simple and informal. Inquire may be used in the endeavor to be civil, or it may express a more minute examination into facts: as, to inquire (into, as to) the causes of discontent. To question in this sense implies the asking of a series of questions, it being supposed that the truth is hard to get at, through ignorance, reluctance, etc., in the person questioned. Interrogate is essentially the same as question, but more formal: as, to question a child or servant about his conduct; to interrogate a witness, an applicant for office, etc. Questioning or interrogation might be resented where asking, asking a question, or inquiring would meet with a friendly response.
  • To request or petition: with for before the thing requested: as, ask for bread.
  • To inquire or make inquiry; put a question: often followed by after or about, formerly also by of.
  • n. A newt.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make a request or demand for something to somebody
  • v. direct or put; seek an answer to
  • v. address a question to and expect an answer from
  • v. consider obligatory; request and expect
  • v. require or ask for as a price or condition
  • v. inquire about
  • v. require as useful, just, or proper

Etymologies

Middle English asken, from Old English ācsian, āscian.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English asken, from Old English āxian, āscian ("to ask, inquire, seek for, demand, call, summon, examine, observe"), from Proto-Germanic *aiskōnan (“to ask, ask for”), from Proto-Indo-European *ayǝs- (“to look for”). Cognate with West Frisian easkje ("to require, postulate, demand"), Dutch eisen ("to demand, require"), German heischen ("to demand"), Danish æske ("to provoke"), Swedish äska ("to demand"), Russian искать (iskat', "to seek, look for"). (Wiktionary)
From Middle English aske, arske, from Old English āþexe ("lizard, newt"), from Proto-Germanic *agiþahsijōn (“lizard”), from Proto-Germanic *agi- (“snake”) (from Proto-Indo-European *ogʷh- (“snake, lizard”)) + Proto-Germanic *þahsuz (“badger”) (from Proto-Indo-European *teḱs- (“to hew, trim”)). Cognate with Scots ask, awsk, esk ("an eft or newt"), Dutch hagedis ("lizard"), German Echse, Eidechse ("lizard"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • The stake to which a cow is tied in the byre. Dr. Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary and Supplement, 1841.

    May 26, 2011

  • Go axe your father.

    May 26, 2011

  • In Comfortable Words (1959), Bergen Evans notes that axe for ask “is the old form. . . . The Anglo-Saxon verb was acsian. The modern pronunciation is the result of metathesis — which is a learned way of saying that the s slipped out of place.” Wyclif’s Bible, Evans reminds us, has “axe and it shall be gyven unto you.” Caxton, in 1490, spelled the past tense axyd. And as late as 1806 Noah Webster said he preferred axe. All of which is not to say that pronouncing this word /aks/ is correct, only that the common mispronunciation of “ask” today is vestigial. — The Orthoepist

    November 23, 2010

  • apparently ASK is now appearing as a noun:

    An "ask" is a request made of a volunteer to do something. It seems to
    be an increasingly common noun in activist circles.

    taken from http://martinfowler.com/articles/obamaSoftware.html

    August 5, 2009

  • In the year 3000, everybody says axe.

    November 2, 2007

  • I have to say, it really makes me laugh when people say, "I need to axe you something."!

    November 2, 2007

  • In Australia we say ahsk and mispronounce it ahks. Like arsk in Boston (Thanks AbraxasZugswang).

    February 9, 2007

  • Does not rhyme with 'axe'. That said, if you insist on 'axing' me for something, you're probably going to get it. That is, until I buy a longer flail and take back what you axed me for. :)

    December 8, 2006