a spoken or written reply or response to a question, request, letter, etc.:
He sent an answer to my letter promptly.
a correct response to a question asked to test one’s knowledge.
an equivalent or approximation:
a singing group that tried to be the French answer to the Beatles.
an action serving as a reply or response:
The answer was a volley of fire.
a solution to a problem, especially in mathematics.
a reply to a charge or accusation.
Law. a pleading in which a party responds to his or her opponent’s statement of position, especially the defendant’s reply to the plaintiff’s complaint.
Music. the entrance of a fugue subject, usually on the dominant, either slightly altered or transposed exactly after each presentation in the tonic.
to speak or write in response; make answer; reply.
to respond by an act or motion:
He answered with a nod. The champion answered with a right to the jaw.
to act or suffer in consequence of (usually followed by for).
to be or declare oneself responsible or accountable (usually followed by for):
I will answer for his safety.
to be satisfactory or serve (usually followed by for):
His cane answered for a baseball bat.
to conform; correspond (usually followed by to):
The prisoner answered to the description issued by the police.
to speak or write in response to; reply to:
to answer a person; to answer a question.
to act or move in response to:
Answer the doorbell. We answered their goal with two quick goals of our own.
to solve or present a solution of.
to serve or fulfill:
This will answer the purpose.
to discharge (a responsibility, claim, debt, etc.).
to conform or correspond to; be similar or equivalent to:
This dog answers your description.
to atone for; make amends for.
to reply or respond favorably to:
I would like to answer your request but am unable to do so.
answer back, to reply impertinently or rudely:
Well-behaved children do not answer back when scolded.
answer the helm, Nautical. (of a vessel) to maneuver or remain steady according to the position of the rudder.
Historical Examples

These questions were answerless, like so many of the others; but after the perplexity had been pushed aside, the doubt remained.
The Quickening Francis Lynde

He fears that I uphold her in this duel of words, of answerless questions.
A Fascinating Traitor Richard Henry Savage

These crepuscular chambers at Vincigliata are a mystery and a challenge; they seem the mere propounding of an answerless riddle.
Italian Hours Henry James

The question asked itself a many a time, and was as often answerless, before there came a stir without and voices in the corridor.
The Master of Appleby Francis Lynde

a reply, either spoken or written, as to a question, request, letter, or article
a reaction or response in the form of an action: drunkenness was his answer to disappointment
a solution, esp of a mathematical problem

a party’s written reply to his opponent’s interrogatories
(in divorce law) the respondent’s written reply to the petition

a musical phrase that follows the subject of a fugue, reproducing it a fifth higher or a fourth lower
(when transitive, may take a clause as object) to reply or respond (to) by word or act: to answer a question, he answered, to answer the door, he answered that he would come
(transitive) to reply correctly to; solve or attempt to solve: I could answer only three questions
(intransitive) usually foll by to. to respond or react (to a stimulus, command, etc): the steering answers to the slightest touch
(transitive) to pay off (a debt, obligation, etc); discharge
when intr, often foll by for. to meet the requirements (of); be satisfactory (for); serve the purpose (of): this will answer his needs, this will answer for a chisel
when intr, often foll by to. to match or correspond (esp in the phrase answer (or answer to) the description)
(transitive) to give a defence or refutation of (a charge) or in (an argument)

Old English andswaru “an answer, a reply,” from and- “against” (see ante) + -swaru “affirmation,” from swerian “to swear” (see swear), suggesting an original sense of “make a sworn statement rebutting a charge.” A common Germanic compound (cf. Old Saxon antswor, Old Norse andsvar, Old Frisian ondser, Danish and Swedish ansvar), implying a Proto-Germanic *andswara-. Meaning “a reply to a question,” the main modern sense, was present in Old English. Meaning “solution of a problem” is from c.1300.

Old English answarian “to answer;” see answer (n.). Meaning “to respond in antiphony” is from early 15c.; that of “to be responsible for” is early 13c. Related: Answered; answering. The telephone answering machine is from 1961.

answer back
answer for
answer to

also see:

know all the answers
take no for an answer


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