Definition for AN'SWER

AN'SWER, v.t. [ansur; Sax. andswarian, of anti, against, and Sax. swaran or swerian or swerigan, Goth. swaran, to swear. The primitive sense of swear was merely to speak or affirm; and hence, originally, oath was used after it, to swear an oath; which is not a pleonasm, as Lye supposes, but the primitive form of expression retained. The sense of answer is an opposite, a returned word or speech. Hence we observe the Saxon has andwyrd, antiword, an answer; Goth. andawaurd; D. antwoord; Ger. antwort.]

  1. To speak in return to a call or question, or to a speech, declaration or argument of another person; as, “I have called, and ye have not answered.” “He answered the question or the argument.” This may be in agreement and confirmation of what was said, or in opposition to it.
  2. To be equivalent to; to be adequate to, or sufficient to accomplish the object. “Money answereth all things,” noting, primarily, return.
  3. To comply with, fulfill, pay or satisfy; as, he answered my order; to answer a debt.
  4. To act in return, or opposition; as, the enemy answered our fire by a shower of grape shot.
  5. To bear a due proportion to; to be equal or adequate; to suit; as, a weapon does not answer the size and strength of the man using it; the success does not answer our expectation.
  6. To perform what was intended; to accomplish; as, the measure does not answer its end; it does not answer the purpose.
  7. To be opposite to; to face; as, fire answers fire. – Shak.
  8. To write in reply; to reply to another writing by way of explanation, refutation or justification; as, to answer a pamphlet.
  9. To solve, as a proposition or problem in mathematics. This word may be applied to a great variety of objects, expressing the idea of a return; as the notes, or sounds of birds, and other animals; an echo, &c.

Return to page 130 of the letter “A”.