use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

an·swer (ănsər)
Share:
n.
1.
a. A spoken or written reply, as to a question.
b. A correct reply.
2.
a. A solution, as to a problem.
b. A correct solution.
3. An act in response or retaliation: Our only possible answer was to sue.
4. Something markedly similar to another of the same class: cable TV's answer to the commercial networks' sportscasts.
5. Law A defendant's response to the allegations against him or her.
v. an·swered, an·swer·ing, an·swers
v.intr.
1. To speak or write as a return, as to a question.
2. To act in response: Their team scored, but our team answered with a quick goal.
3. To be liable or accountable: You must answer for your actions to your supervisor.
4. To serve the purpose; suffice: "Often I do use three words where one would answer" (Mark Twain).
5. To correspond; match: I found a dog answering to that description.
v.tr.
1.
a. To speak or write in response to: answer a question.
b. To say or write in reply: He answered that he was unable to join us.
c. To argue in defense of oneself against (an accusation or charge).
2. To act in response to: The police answered the call for help. The soldiers answered the attack.
3. To be sufficient for (a need, for instance); fulfill: "My fortune has answered my desires" (Izaak Walton).
4. To conform or correspond to: The suspect answers the description given by the police.

[Middle English answere, from Old English andswaru; see swer- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Synonyms: answer, respond, reply, retort1
These verbs relate to action taken in return to a stimulus. Answer, respond, and reply, the most general, all mean to speak, write, or act in response: Please answer my question. Did you expect the president to respond personally to your letter? The opposing team scored three runs; the home team replied with two of their own. Respond also denotes a reaction, either voluntary (A bystander responded to the victim's need for help) or involuntary (She responded in spite of herself to the antics of the puppy). To retort is to answer verbally in a quick, caustic, or witty manner: She won the debate by retorting sharply to her opponent's questions. See Also Synonyms at satisfy.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.