answer(redirected from answering)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to answering: Answering machines
answer on a postcard
1. A brief, concise answer, reply, or opinion, especially one meant as a quick response to a general question. I'd like to get people's opinions on where to go for a summer vacation. Answers on a postcard, please!
2. An answer that is considered obvious or self-evident. We'd like to get into more complex reasons for inequality, so please avoid just giving answers on a postcard.
won't take no for an answer
Will not stop with what one has planned or desires, regardless of others' lack of agreement. Once my brother gets his mind made up, he won't take no for an answer, so don't bother trying to reason with him. It's nice of you to refuse, sweetheart, but this car is a gift from your grandmother and me—we won't take no for an answer!
a civil question deserves a civil answer
If someone asks a reasonable question, then it warrants an answer. Often used as a reprimand. Why won't you answer me, Alice? A civil question deserves a civil answer! All Jim did was ask about your day. Come on, a civil question deserves a civil answer.
answer the bell
To meet a challenge with success. The phrase alludes to boxing, as boxers come out of their respective corners to "answer the bell" that signals the start of each round. This project has been a massive undertaking, but I've answered the bell by staying late every night this week, and things are progressing nicely. Stacy, you really answered the bell this semester and did some excellent research for us.
ask a silly question and you get a silly answer
If one asks a strange or nonsensical question, the listener will probably respond with a similarly strange or nonsensical answer. A: "What the heck are you talking about? All I did was ask if you think I should dress my cat up for Halloween!" B: "Well, ask a silly question and you get a silly answer!"
answer back (to someone)and answer someone back
to talk back (to someone); to argue (with someone). (Fixed phrase.) I wish you wouldn't answer back to me that way. Please don't answer me back like that! Don't answer backer I'll ground you for a week!
answer for someone
1. Lit. to speak for another person. I can't answer for Chuck, but I do have my own opinion. I will answer for my friend in his absence.
2. Fig. to vouch for someone; to tell of the goodness of someone's character. Mr. Jones, who had known the girl all her life, answered for her. He knew she was innocent. I will answer for Ted. He could not hurt a flea.
answer for someone or something
Fig. to explain or justify the actions of someone or some act; to take responsibility or blame for someone or something. You will have to answer for your children's bad behavior. I will answer only for my own misdeeds.
answer someone's purposeand serve someone's purpose
to fit or suit someone's aim or goal. This piece of wood will answer my purpose quite nicely. The new car serves our purpose perfectly.
answer the call
1. Euph. to die. Our dear brother answered the call and has gone to his eternal rest.
2. answer the call (of nature) Euph. to find and use the toilet. We stopped the car long enough for Jed to answer the call of nature. You had better answer the call of nature when you feel it coming.
answer the door
Fig. [after hearing the doorbell or a knock] to go to the door to see who is there. Would you please answer the door. I am busy. I wish someone would answer the door. I can't stand to hear the knocking.
answer to someone
1. Fig. to explain or justify one's actions to someone. (Usually with have to.) If John cannot behave properly, he'll have to answer to me. The car thief will have to answer to the judge.
2. Fig. [in the hierarchy of the workplace] to be under the supervision of someone; to report to someone. (See also report to (someone or something).) You will answer directly to Mr. Wright. I answer only to the boss.
answer to the description of someone
Fig. to match a particular set of physical or facial characteristics. Chuck answers to the description his sister gave us. The man in police custody answers to the description of the burglar.
answer to the name (of) something
to respond to a particular name. I answer to the name Walter. She answers to the name of Claire.
not take no for an answer
Fig. not to accept someone's refusal. (A polite way of being insistent.) Now, you must drop over and see us tomorrow. We won't take no for an answer. I had to go to their party. They just wouldn't take no for an answer.
a quick, easy answer; a simplified or evasive answer. Don't just give them a pat answer. Give some more explanation and justification. Otherwise you will just end up answering a lot more questions.
soft answer turneth away wrath
Prov. If you speak softly and meekly to someone who is angry with you, that person will calm down. (Biblical.) It won't do any good for you to yell at John because he yelled at you. Remember that a soft answer turneth away wrath.
talk back (to someone)
to challenge verbally a parent, an older person, or one's superior. Please don't talk back to me! I've told you before not to talk back!
answer for something
to admit responsibility for causing a problem or situation He may not go to jail, but someday he is going to have to answer for what he did before God. If you mix art and politics critics get upset and you have to answer for it.Related vocabulary: have a lot to answer for
answer to somebody
to be responsible to someone else If you own your own company, you do not have to answer to stockholders.
somebody's answer to somebody/something
something intended to be as good as another similar person or thing The European Film Awards are Europe's answer to the Academy Awards.
not take no for an answer
to be unwilling to accept a refusal She sent faxes, made phone calls, sent e-mail - she just wouldn't take no for an answer.
the answer to your prayers
exactly what is needed or wanted These new artificial hearts are amazing, but are they the answer to our prayers?
Usage notes: sometimes used in the form the answer to something's prayers: Each new technology has been introduced as the answer to education's prayers.
have all the answersalso know all the answers
to be ready with all the available information about something There's one kid in my class who always has her hand up and always has all the answers. I don't know what can be done - I don't have all the answers, but I do have a lot of questions.
Usage notes: often used to describe someone who wants other people to recognize their intelligence: I used to date someone who had all the answers, and he was such a bore.
have a lot to answer for
to have much of the responsibility for a situation The owners forced a strike, but the workers have a lot to answer for, too.Related vocabulary: answer for something
talk back (to somebody)
to answer rudely They were arrested on minor charges after talking back to a police officer. In my family, kids just never talked back.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of talk back (to answer someone)
answer the call of nature(humorous)
to urinate (= pass liquid from the body) I had to go into the woods to answer the call of nature.
not take no for an answer
if someone will not take no for an answer, they continue asking for something although their request has already been refused I've told her again and again that you're too busy to see her, but she won't take no for an answer.
somebody's answer to somebody/something
someone or something that is just as good as a more famous person or thing in the place where it comes from The Kennedy clan was America's answer to the royal families of Europe.
the answer to somebody's prayers
someone or something that someone has needed very much for a long time A new supermarket delivery service was the answer to my prayers.See have a lot to answer for
have a lot to answer for
to be the main cause of a problem or an unpleasant situation People who sell drugs to kids have a lot to answer for.
1. Take responsibility for, take charge of, as in The new alarm system has to answer for the security of the grounds. [Late 1200s]
2. Take the blame for, as in The kids who were caught shoplifting have a lot to answer for. [c. 1200]
3. To vouch for or sponsor someone, as in I'll answer for John as a reliable employee. [Early 1700s]
Explain or justify something to someone, as in If Mary doesn't help us finish this project, she'll have to answer to the boss. This expression was at first used mainly for replying to legal charges. [c. a.d. 950]
ask a stupid question and you'll get a stupid answer
Also, ask a silly question. Your query doesn't deserve a proper answer, as in Am I hungry? ask a stupid question! One authority believes this idiom is a variant of ask me no questions and I'll tell you no fibs, which appeared in Oliver Goldsmith's play She Stoops to Conquer (1773) and was frequently repeated thereafter. [Early 1800s]
know all the answers
Also, know a thing or two; know it all; know one's way around. Be extremely knowledgeable or experienced. These idioms may be used somewhat differently, expressing overconfidence, as in Helen always knew all the answers, or thought she did, or competence, as in Bob knows a thing or two about battery technology, or ruefulness, as in I thought I knew it all about plants and then I got poison ivy, or genuine expertise, as in John knows his way around tax forms. The first term dates from the early 1900s, the second from the later 1700s, the third from the later 1800s, and the fourth, also put as know one's way about, dates from the 1500s. Also see know one's stuff; know the ropes; under tricks of the trade.
take no for an answer, not
Not accept a refusal, be persistent in demanding something, as in I want you to show me the statements and I won't take no for an answer. This idiom was first recorded in 1930 in Winston Churchill's My Early Life: "Don't take no for an answer, never submit to failure."
Also, answer back. Reply rudely or impertinently, as in She was always in trouble for talking back, or The teacher won't allow anyone to answer back to her. [Second half of 1800s]
1. To respond to a question or request; reply: After I requested a catalog from the clothing company many times, they finally answered back, saying they didn't have any catalogs left. We leave message after message with them, but they never answer us back.
2. To respond rudely or inappropriately: Don't answer back to your mother like that!
1. To speak on behalf of someone else: I think my friend would agree to your offer, but I must speak with him first, since I can't answer for him.
2. To accept responsibility or blame for something: When your parents come back, you'll have to answer for the mess you made.
1. To be called some name: His real name is Edward, but he usually answers to Ted.
2. To be liable or accountable to someone or something: The treasurer answers directly to the vice president.
1. To respond to someone rudely or inappropriately: The servants were not supposed to talk back to their masters.
2. To make a hostile response: The enemy's guns are talking back.
3. To respond to a signal or transmission, especially through a path of electronic communication: My computer is sending information through the modem, but the network computer is not talking back.