with suspicion, mistrust, or disapproval:
He looked askance at my offer.
with a side glance; sidewise; obliquely.
Historical Examples

She was desperately conscious of me, watching me askant with the curiously commingled fear and trustfulness of a child.
McClure’s Magazine, Vol 31, No 2, June 1908 Various

Captain Jackman, in these few moments of pause in the talk, seemed to make an askant study of the commander, who sat opposite.
A Tale of Two Tunnels William Clark Russell

Thereupon Mr B. looked at me askant out of his gipsy eyes, as if he thought me an example of the evils of female education!
The Life of George Borrow Herbert Jenkins

A few quiet tears followed these brave words, and Grace looked at her askant, and began to do her justice.
Put Yourself in His Place Charles Reade

Gerard pondered these simple words, and eyed her askant, carrying the child with perfect ease.
The Cloister and the Hearth Charles Reade

with an oblique glance
with doubt or mistrust

1520s, “sideways, asquint,” of obscure origin. OED has separate listings for askance and obsolete Middle English askance(s) and no indication of a connection, but Barnhart and others derive the newer word from the older one. The Middle English word, recorded early 14c. as ase quances and found later in Chaucer, meant “in such a way that; even as; as if;” and as an adverb “insincerely, deceptively.” It has been analyzed as a compound of as and Old French quanses (pronounced “kanses”) “how if,” from Latin quam “how” + si “if.”

The E[nglish] as is, accordingly, redundant, and merely added by way of partial explanation. The M.E. askances means “as if” in other passages, but here means, “as if it were,” i.e. “possibly,” “perhaps”; as said above. Sometimes the final s is dropped …. [Walter W. Skeat, glossary to Chaucer’s “Man of Law’s Tale,” 1894]

Also see discussion in Leo Spitzer, “Anglo-French Etymologies,” Philological Quarterly 24.23 (1945), and see OED entry for askance (adv.) for discussion of the mysterious ask- word cluster in English. Other guesses about the origin of askance include Old French a escone, from past participle of a word for “hidden;” Italian a scancio “obliquely, slantingly;” or that it is a cognate of askew.

see: look askance


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