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Alternative forms[edit]


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English answere, andsware, from Old English andswaru (answer), from and- (against) +‎ -swaru (affirmation), (from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ent- (front, forehead) and Old English swerian (to swear), from Proto-Indo-European *swer-), suggesting an original meaning of "a sworn statement rebutting a charge". The cognates suggest the existence of Proto-Germanic *andaswarō (a reply to a question). Cognate with Old Frisian ondser (answer), Old Saxon andswōr (answer), Danish and Swedish ansvar (liability, responsibility, answer), Icelandic andsvar (answer, response). Compare also Old English andwyrde (answer) (cognate to Dutch antwoord, German Antwort), Old English andcwiss (reply), German Schwur (oath, vow).


answer (plural answers)

  1. A response or reply; something said or done in reaction to a statement or question.
    Her answer to his proposal was a slap in the face.
  2. A solution to a problem.
    There is no simple answer to corruption.
    Violence is not the answer to disagreements.
  3. (law) A document filed in response to a complaint, responding to each point raised in the complaint and raising counterpoints.
Derived terms[edit]
Terms derived from answer (noun)

See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English answeren, andswaren, answerien, from Old English andswarian, answarien (to answer, to respond, to deny an allegation under oath), from Proto-Germanic *andaswarōną, *andaswarjaną (to answer, to give a response, to rebut), from *anda- (against) +‎ *swarjaną, *swarōną (to swear an oath, to answer, to respond), from Proto-Indo-European *swer- (to swear) and *h₂ent- (face, forehead), equivalent to and- (against, back) +‎ swear. Cognate with Old Frisian ondswera (to answer), Danish ansvare (to answer, account for), Swedish ansvara (to answer, account for), Icelandic andsvara (to answer, reply).


answer (third-person singular simple present answers, present participle answering, simple past and past participle answered)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To make a reply or response to.
    He answered the question.
  2. (transitive) To speak in defence against; to reply to in defence.
    to answer a charge or accusation
  3. (transitive, intransitive) To respond to a call by someone at a door or telephone, or other similar piece of equipment.
    She answered the door.
    Nobody answered when I knocked on the door.
  4. (transitive, intransitive) To suit a need or purpose satisfactorily.
    • 1815 December (indicated as 1816), [Jane Austen], chapter 6, in Emma: [], volume III, London: [] [Charles Roworth and James Moyes] for John Murray, →OCLC:
      Mr. Knightley had done all in his power for Mr. Woodhouse’s entertainment. Books of engravings, drawers of medals, cameos, corals, shells, and every other family collection within his cabinets, had been prepared for his old friend, to while away the morning; and the kindness had perfectly answered.
    • 1864, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Uncle Silas:
      Inexperienced girl as I was, I fired at the idea of becoming his dupe, and fancying, perhaps, that there was more in merely answering his note than it would have amounted to, I said — "That kind of thing may answer very well with button-makers, but ladies don't like it. []
    • 1871, Alexander J. Ellis, On Early English Pronunciation[1], London: Trübner & Co., Part III, Chapter 7, section 1, p. 656, footnote 1:
      Of course for publication in a newspaper, my palaeotype would not answer, but my glossotype would enable the author to give his Pennsylvania German in an English form and much more intelligibly.
    • 1903, Samuel Butler, chapter 41, in The Way of All Flesh:
      Theobald spoke as if watches had half-a-dozen purposes besides time-keeping, but he could hardly open his mouth without using one or other of his tags, and "answering every purpose" was one of them.
    It answers the need.
  5. To be accountable or responsible; to make amends.
    Synonym: answer for
    The man must answer to his employer for the money entrusted to his care.
    He has a lot to answer for.
  6. (law) To file a document in response to a complaint.
  7. To correspond to; to be in harmony with; to be in agreement with.
    • 1775, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Duenna, Dublin: G. Burnet et al., 1794, Act II, Scene 2, p. 25,[2]
      Egad, I wish she had answer’d her picture as well.
    • 1793, Bryan Edwards, The History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies[3], Dublin: Luke White, Volume II, Book V, Chapter 2, p. 231:
      The use of dunder in the making of rum, answers the purpose of yeast in the fermentation of flour.
  8. To be opposite, or to act in opposition.
    • 1786, William Gilpin, Observations, relative chiefly to picturesque beauty, made in the year 1772: on several parts of England; particularly the mountains, and lakes of Cumberland, and Westmoreland[4], London: R. Blamire, Volume II, Section 19, p. 85:
      The windows answering each other, we could just discern the glowing horizon through them []
  9. To be or act in conformity, or by way of accommodation, correspondence, relation, or proportion; to conform; to correspond; to suit; usually with to.
  10. To respond to satisfactorily; to meet successfully by way of explanation, argument, or justification; to refute.
  11. To be or act in compliance with, in fulfillment or satisfaction of, as an order, obligation, or demand.
    He answered my claim upon him.
    The servant answered the bell.
    • c. 1597 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The First Part of Henry the Fourth, []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene iii]:
      [] this proud king [] studies day and night / To answer all the debts he owes unto you
    • 1764, John Nourse, Navigation Or, the Art of Sailing Upon the Sea, page 65:
      The faster a ship sails, the better she will answer her helm; if she sail very slow, she will scarce steer at all. If she heel much, she won't answer the helm so well.
  12. (obsolete) To render account to or for.
  13. (obsolete) To atone for; to be punished for.
  14. (obsolete) To be or act as an equivalent to, or as adequate or sufficient for; to serve for; to repay.
Derived terms[edit]
Terms derived from answer (verb)
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also[edit]


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of answere