Meaning of ANSWER in English


I. an ‧ swer 1 S1 W1 /ˈɑːnsə $ ˈænsər/ BrE AmE noun

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: andswaru ]

1 . REPLY [uncountable and countable] something you say when you reply to a question that someone has asked you SYN response :

You don’t have to give them an answer now.

Every time I ask him about it, I get a different answer.

answer to

These are important questions, and we want answers to them.

She’s still waiting for an answer from the school.

The honest answer was that I didn’t know.

He was never able to get a straight answer about why it happened.

It’s impossible for me to give you a definite answer at this time.

The short answer is that it can’t be done.

In answer to your question, yes, you can go.

If it’s money you want, the answer is no!

2 . TEST/COMPETITION ETC [countable] something that you write or say in reply to a question in a test or competition

answer to

What was the answer to question 4?

the right/wrong/correct/incorrect answer

Score two points for each correct answer.

3 . INVITATION/LETTER ETC [countable] a written reply to a letter, invitation, advertisement etc

answer to

Did you ever get an answer to your letter?

4 . PROBLEM [countable] a way of dealing with a problem SYN solution

simple/easy/obvious answer

There is no simple answer.

answer to

The police do not have an answer to rising crime.

Some people think cars should be banned from the city, but I don’t think that’s the answer.

be the answer to sb’s problems/worries etc

If he could get a job it’d be the answer to all his worries.

5 . ON THE PHONE [singular, uncountable usually in negative] if you get an answer when you call someone on the phone, they pick up the phone and talk to you:

I tried calling him all day but couldn’t get an answer.

6 . AT THE DOOR [singular, uncountable usually in negative] if you get an answer when you knock on a door, someone opens it and talks to you:

I tried knocking on her door, but there was no answer.

7 . have/know all the answers informal to be very sure that you know everything about a situation, especially when you do not:

He acts like he has all the answers.

8 . sb’s answer to something written someone or something that is considered to be just as good as a more famous person or thing:

The Space Needle is Seattle’s answer to the Eiffel Tower.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ adjectives

▪ an honest/straight answer

The honest answer is that I don’t know.

▪ a definite answer (=that says yes or no definitely)

Can you give me a definite answer tomorrow?

▪ a satisfactory answer

I didn’t get a satisfactory answer from the company.

■ verbs

▪ give somebody an answer

I’ll give you an answer tomorrow.

▪ get/receive an answer

She wrote to him but she never got an answer.

▪ wait for an answer

Kate was looking at me, waiting for an answer.

▪ think of an answer

She couldn’t think of a suitable answer to his question.

■ phrases

▪ the short answer is ... (=used when giving a simple, honest, or direct answer to a difficult question)

‘How does homeopathy work?’ ‘The short answer to this question is that we do not know how homeopathic remedies work.’

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ adjectives

▪ the right/wrong answer

Do you know the right answer to this question?

▪ the correct/incorrect answer

You get 5 points for each correct answer.

■ verbs

▪ know the answer

Put up your hand if you know the answer.

▪ guess the answer

If you don’t know the answer, try guessing it.

▪ write the answer

Do we write the answers in the exercise book, Sir?

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 3)

■ adjectives

▪ the simple/easy answer

There are a lot of problems and no simple answers.

▪ the obvious answer

The obvious answer is to raise taxes, but that would be unpopular.

▪ the perfect answer

I think I have the perfect answer to the problem.

▪ the complete answer

A loan, however, is not the complete answer to the company’s problems.

▪ the long-term answer

He believes hydrogen is the long-term answer to our growing energy crisis.

▪ a short-term answer

Employing overseas nurses is only a short-term answer to the shortage.

■ verbs

▪ have an answer

Doctors are supposed to have all the answers.

▪ find an answer

The aim is to find a long-term answer to poverty.

▪ come up with an answer (=find a way of dealing with a problem)

The government is struggling to come up with answers to our economic problems.

• • •


▪ answer something you say when someone asks you a question or speaks to you:

I asked if he wanted to come, but I didn’t get an answer.


If you’re asking me for money, the answer’s no!

▪ reply an answer. Used especially in written English to report what someone said:

She asked how he felt, and received the reply, ‘Awful!’


‘Finished now?’ ‘No,' came the reply.

▪ response an answer that clearly shows your reaction to a question, suggestion etc:

Wagner’s responses showed that he had thought carefully about the issues.


‘Sure. Why not?’ was his response to most of Billie’s suggestions.

▪ retort written an angry answer given when someone has annoyed you or criticized you:

Isabelle began an angry retort and then stopped herself.

▪ comeback a quick answer that is clever, funny, or rude:

He walked out before I could think of a snappy comeback.

▪ riposte formal a quick and clever answer:

Anna produced the perfect riposte.

▪ rejoinder formal a quick answer, especially a clever or rude one:

If he confronts them, he’ll run the risk of a sharp rejoinder.

II. answer 2 S1 W2 BrE AmE verb

1 . REPLY [intransitive and transitive] to say something to someone as a reply when they have asked you a question, made a suggestion etc:

She thought for a moment before answering.

He still hadn’t answered my question.

‘Why don’t you just leave?’ ‘I’d like to,’ she answered, ‘but I have nowhere else to go.’

answer (that)

When questioned, Hughes answered that he knew nothing about the robbery.

How much was it? Come on, answer me.

2 . TEST [intransitive and transitive] to write or say the answer to a question in a test or competition:

Answer as many questions as possible in the time provided.

3 . answer the phone/a call/the door to pick up the telephone and speak when it rings or open the door when someone knocks or rings the bell

4 . LETTER [transitive] if you answer a letter or advertisement, you write a letter to the person who has written it:

Simon got the job by answering an advert in the paper.

5 . answer criticism/charges/accusations etc to explain why you did something when people are criticizing you – used in news reports:

How do you answer the criticism that your government has done nothing to help the homeless?

6 . REACT TO SOMETHING [intransitive and transitive] to do something as a reaction to criticism or an attack SYN respond :

The army answered by firing into the crowd.

7 . DEAL WITH A PROBLEM [transitive] to be a way of dealing with or solving a problem:

‘You can borrow my car if you like.’ ‘Well, that answers one problem.’

8 . answer a need to provide something that is needed:

Our transportation system is designed to answer the needs of the city’s commuters.

9 . answer a description if someone answers a description, they match that description:

A man answering the police’s description was seen entering the building.

• • •


▪ answer to say something to someone when they have asked you a question or spoken to you:

You don’t have to answer the question if you don’t want to.


I said hello to her, but she didn’t answer.

▪ reply to answer someone. Used especially in written English to report what someone said:

‘I’m so sorry,’ he replied.


We asked Jane to help, but she replied that she was too busy.

▪ respond formal to answer someone:

How do you respond to the allegation that you deliberately deceived your employers?

▪ give somebody an answer to answer someone by telling them what you have decided or giving them a piece of information they asked for:

He asked me to marry him, but I didn’t give him an answer straight away.

▪ get back to somebody to answer someone at a later time especially by telephoning them, usually because you need to think about their question or find out more information:

She’s promised to get back to me as soon as she hears any more news from the hospital.

▪ retort written to answer someone angrily, especially because they have annoyed you or criticized you:

‘You’re not afraid?’ Brenda asked. ‘Of course not,’ he retorted angrily.

answer back phrasal verb

to reply in a rude way to someone that you are supposed to obey

answer somebody back

Don’t answer me back young man!

answer for somebody/something phrasal verb

1 . to explain to people in authority why you did something wrong or why something happened, and be punished if necessary:

Their coach must answer for the team’s poor performance.

2 . have a lot to answer for informal to be responsible for causing a lot of trouble

3 . can’t answer for somebody spoken used to say that you cannot make a decision for someone who is not there, or give their opinion:

I’m sure John will help us – I can’t really answer for the others.

answer to somebody/something phrasal verb

1 . to give an explanation to someone, especially about something that you have done wrong:

Phipps answers to me and me alone.

2 . answer to the name of something to be called a particular name – used humorously:

a well-dressed young woman answering to the name of Suzanne

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.