Meaning of ANSWER in English


I. ˈan(t)sə(r), ˈaan-, ˈain-, ˈȧn- noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English answer, andswere, from Old English andswaru (akin to Old Frisian ondser, Old Saxon antswōr, Old Norse andsvar ), from and- against + -swaru (from the root of Old English swerian to swear) — more at ante- , swear


a. : something spoken or written in reply : a response to a question, call, summons, or appeal : a rejoinder to a remark, argument, or objection : a letter sent in return for one received : reply

an honest answer to a fair question

a soft answer turns away wrath — Prov 15:1 (Revised Standard Version)

I called him but he gave no answer — Song of Sol 5:6 (Revised Standard Version)

sent him five letters without receiving a single answer

b. : a correct response to a question intended to test knowledge (as one asked as part of an examination or one implied in a topic assigned for discussion)

knew the answers to only 3 of the 10 questions


a. : a reply to a charge or accusation : defense

at my first answer no man stood with me — 2 Tim 4:16 (Authorized Version)

b. common law : a counterstatement of facts in a course of pleadings ; especially : the counterstatement made by the defendant in an equity case by way of reply to the charges made by the complainant in his bill — distinguished from demurrer

c. modern statutory law : the defendant's pleading made in either law or equity often including a demurrer or any other pleading whereby an issue is made or tendered by the defendant (as where a statute provides that judgment by default may be entered if no answer is filed)

d. English law : the plaintiff's reply to a defendant's plea setting up circumstances in defense

3. : something done or given in response or in return for something else : a reply made through action

its publication … comes as the answer to an acute demand — Survey Graphic

the Western answer to this move was the use of planes to supply food

his only answer was to take his hat and walk out

also : responsive action

received a slap by way of answer

men from the neighboring villages gathered in answer to the warning

in answer to your request we are sending a catalog

4. : a solution of a problem:

a. : a solution resulting from mathematical operation or other similar exercise of the reasoning power

the answer to a chess problem

the answer to a cryptogram

b. : a solution of any intricate problem : explanation of a perplexing or difficult situation offered or accepted as correct and as furnishing a guide to procedure

the world situation is not one to which there is an easy answer — Dean Acheson

the search for an answer to life

5. of a fugue : the imitation or exact transposition of the subject by a different voice usually at the interval of a fifth above or a fourth below

II. verb

( answered ; answered ; answering -s(ə)riŋ ; answers )

Etymology: Middle English answeren, andsweren, from Old English andswarian, andswerian, from andswaru, n.

intransitive verb


a. : to speak or write in reply to something said or written by another : reply , respond , rejoin

too nervous to answer effectively

answered well in all his examinations except one

refused to answer on grounds of possible self-incrimination

should give the … organizations attacked by him a chance to answer through public hearings — S.H.Slichter

think carefully before answering

b. : to serve or file an answer (sense 2)


a. : to be or make oneself responsible or accountable : undertake responsibility : give assurance or guaranty — used with for

stood ready to answer for the conduct of his children

unless immediate reforms are made, we cannot answer for the consequences

no one can answer for the future

b. : to meet or suffer the consequences of responsibility : make amends : atone , pay — used with for

a crime for which he answered with his life

someday you will answer for this

3. : to be in conformity or correspondence in size, shape, position, character, or quality : be similar or equivalent : correspond — usually used with to

as in water face answers to face, so the mind of man reflects the man — Prov 27:19 (Revised Standard Version)

a result that did not answer to expectations

the boundless ocean of prairie vanishing into the far horizon, and above it the answering disk of sky — Meridel Le Sueur

answered perfectly to the description we had been given of it

4. : to make a responsive sound (as of an echo)

5. : to act in response to a request, a signal, a controlling action or instrument, or any action performed elsewhere or by another especially in obedience or sympathy or suitably in return

we rang several times but no one ed

if you make the sign of the Man then she will answer with the sign of the Fox — Lafcadio Hearn

underground treasures … seldom answer clearly when they are queried by the geologist's instruments — Time

a flashing light answered on the leading destroyer — Wirt Williams

6. : to serve the purpose : be adequate or sufficient : serve , do

in teaching the young to think hard, any subject will answer — C.W.Eliot

— often used with for

a sofa that was quite often made to answer for a bed

7. : to repeat or imitate a musical theme stated by a preceding voice

the second voice answers in the dominant

transitive verb

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

answer me when I speak to you

you have not answered my question

wrote him several letters which he did not answer

a job which he secured by answering an advertisement

also : to say or write by way of reply

answered that they would be happy to come

answered the first thing that came into his head

2. : to reply to by way of rebuttal, justification, or satisfactory explanation : meet successfully in opposition

an argument that is not easily answered

the only faith that can immediately and finally answer communism — Stephen Spender

3. : to reply to (as a charge, accusation, or complaint) in defense : make a defense against

was held in bail to answer a charge of petty larceny

4. : to act or be in correspondence to:

a. : to give back in kind or in retaliation : return especially suitably or commensurately

answering blow with blow

answered the enemy's fire shell for shell

b. : to correspond or conform to : agree with : fit , suit

if thy appearance answer loud report — John Milton

a man exactly answering the description broadcast by the police

all work must answer the specifications laid down

c. : to correspond to in position

the subtle antiphonal effects that come from curve answering curve, angle echoing angle — Hunter Mead

parts that answer each other on a blueprint

5. : to fulfill, satisfy, or meet (as an obligation, requirement, expectation)

studies day and night to answer all the debt he owes unto you — Shakespeare

: be sufficient for : serve

a first-aid kit designed to answer all common emergencies

if peace did not serve his purposes, war might answer them — Francis Hackett

6. : to reply favorably to (as a petition)

our prayers were answered

7. obsolete : to atone or make amends for : suffer the consequences of

a grievous fault, and grievously hath Caesar answered it — Shakespeare

8. : to act in or by way of response to

a word of protest would be answered by a blow from a scimitar — C.S.Forester

a call for 1000 bottles of blood was answered promptly — Irene Kuhn

the ship was listing heavily and wouldn't answer her rudder

three fire companies answered the alarm

the phone is ringing but nobody answers it

9. : to solve or offer a solution for

can you answer this riddle

tried not only to answer problems but to anticipate them


respond , reply , rejoin , retort : answer is the most general term of this group and is used without especial suggestion for any action of saying, writing, or doing something called for in return

to answer a question

to answer the telephone

It may suggest full or ample return

he could assert, produce arguments, opinions, and information but he couldn't meet or answer arguments — Rose Macaulay

respond may suggest a ready, willing, or immediate answering; it is used in connection with various stimuli, answer being more limited

responding to that appeal, many men and women went forth into the foreign field — Elmer Davis

they were all quick to learn and respond to ethical values — Frances G. Patton

responding to the threat of death with behavior that is a degradation of the human spirit — Time

reply may focus attention on the act of answering in the same way, covering the same ground, giving an appropriate return

to reply to a charge

to reply to a salute

“if anything starts, we are lost, sir”, observed the first lieutenant again. “I'm perfectly aware of it”, replied the captain, in a calm tone — Frederick Marryat

three deep throaty blasts announce the approaching ship, to which the bridge replies with a like number of shrill signals — American Guide Series: Minnesota

rejoin means merely making an answer but may apply to a sharp or pointed reply to an ill-taken comment

“he can't sleep comfortably on that ship”, she said. “In his present state”, rejoined Andrew, “he might not sleep comfortably anywhere” — L.C.Douglas

retort applies to a retaliatory countering answer to some criticism, charge, rebuke, or argument

the plundering soldier in Georgia who retorted to Sherman's sermon with “you can't expect all the cardinal virtues for thirteen dollars a month” — D.W.Brogan

“you wouldn't let me send you a book or two just as a friendly memento?” she cried, incredulous. “I don't take anything from anybody”, he retorted — S.H.Adams

Synonym: see in addition satisfy .

- answer back

- answer to the name of

III. noun

: one that imitates, matches, or corresponds to another

picture books—the book business's answer to the movies — Edward Hoagland

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.