ask, n.

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 1 14:59:33 UTC 2014

I know "the ask" from my current work helping a nonprofit, and a quick
Google search suggests that use to go back to at least 1990:
Fundraising for the small public library

And there are many uses from the mid-90s.


On Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 10:10 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: ask, n.
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> The "ask" makes the New York Times.  Well, not really; they're
> quoting Concast (and we know how degenerate TV broadcasters
> are).  Well, not really; it's a lawyer, making a plea to the FCC.
> [Begin quote from NYT]
> [I]n a filing submitted to the Federal Communications Commission last
> week in defense of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, the
> company lashed out uncharacteristically at its critics.
> In a thick document bristling with arguments on its own behalf,
> Comcast used quite a bit of ink and hot rhetoric on those who would
> lay it low, saying in part: "The significance of this extortion lies
> in not just the sheer audacity of some of the demands, but also the
> fact that each of the entities making the 'ask' has all but conceded
> that if its individual business interests are met, then it has no
> concern whatsoever about the state of the industry, supposed market
> power going forward, or harm to consumers, competitors, or new entrants."
> Gee, Comcast, don't sugarcoat it. Say what you really mean.
> The word extortion is usually applied to guys with names like Nicky
> who wear bad suits and crack their knuckles a lot. If this is how the
> company acts in the wooing stage, imagine how charming it will be
> once it actually gets what it wants.
> [End quote.]
>  From "Growling by Comcast May Bring Tighter Leash", by David Carr,
> Monday Sept. 29, 2014.
> Here "ask", noun, seems to be either "demand" (if it is indeed
> extortion) or "plea" (as more courteous lawyers might refer to
> something asked of a court).
> In the remainder of the article, I didn't see David Carr either
> explaining what " the 'ask' " meant, or saying he himself didn't know.
> Joel
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