\ ə-ˈskan(t)s How to pronounce askance (audio) \
variants: or less commonly askant \ ə-​ˈskant How to pronounce askance (audio) \

Definition of askance

1 : with disapproval or distrust : scornfully They eyed the stranger askance. Many critics have looked askance at the proposal.
2 : with a side-glance : obliquely That experienced pilot of the Broads looked askance at his watch, and drew Allan aside at the first opportunity.— Wilkie Collins

Did you know?

Askance, which etymologists believe may have been influenced by askew, comes from Middle English forms such as askaunce, a-skans, a-skaunces, meaning variously "in such a way that," "as if," "as if to say," and "artificially" or "deceptively." The word was first used in English in the 16th century with the meaning "sideways" or "with a sideways glance," and writers over the years have used the suggestion of someone looking askance at something to express a number of feelings from disapproval and distrust to jealousy.

Examples of askance in a Sentence

we looked askance at the dealer's assertion that the car had never been in an accident
Recent Examples on the Web Candidates and their backers also typically knock on doors to get signatures, but that’s not an option this year as people look askance at strangers on their doorsteps. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 18 May 2020 True, lots of good white progressives look askance at businessmen who amass vast fortunes. John Powers, Los Angeles Times, 28 Feb. 2020 Saban heard those words and looked askance and sidewise. Joseph Goodman |, al, 9 Feb. 2020 But Blue Thunder is still early enough in the cycle to look askance at its titular sweet ride. Peter Opaskar, Ars Technica, 10 Jan. 2020 Anyone who transgresses that norm by refusing to follow traditional gender stereotypes is viewed askance and, in small and large ways, treated as an outcast. Max De Haldevang, Quartz, 27 Dec. 2019 Wisconsinites might look askance at the pie that uses sweet instead of sour cherries, but the bars, Bundt cakes, cookies and other sweets and savories in this book feed the Midwestern soul. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5 Dec. 2019 Even beneficiaries of the increase look at it askance. Robert O'connell, The Atlantic, 1 Oct. 2019 As regulators look increasingly askance at Big Tech, the very notion of blitzscaling raises competition and other concerns, which will make public investors yet more queasy. The Economist, 28 Sep. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'askance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of askance

circa 1530, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for askance

probably a sense development (influenced by asqwynt "obliquely, askew," and phonetically similar words) of earlier and Middle English askaunce, a-skans, a-skaunces "in such a way that, as if, as if to say, artificially, deceptively," from as- as entry 1 + Old French quanses, canses "as if, appearing as though," from quanse-, canse- (going back to Latin quam sī "as if") + -s, adverbial suffix

Note: Evidence for quanses/canses, etc., is lacking in Anglo-French, suggesting that Middle English a-skaunces may not have been directly borrowed from French; rather, the model for the word may have been Middle Dutch als quansis with the same sense, with quansis perhaps borrowed from French dialects adjacent to Dutch (cf. fé lès qwanses "to pretend," Walloon of Liège according to Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, vol. 2, p. 1416).

Learn More About askance

Time Traveler for askance

Time Traveler

The first known use of askance was circa 1530

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About askance

Dictionary Entries Near askance

ask after



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for askance

Last Updated

23 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Askance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for askance


\ ə-ˈskans How to pronounce askance (audio) \

Kids Definition of askance

1 : with a side glance She did not turn her head but watched him askance.
2 : with distrust or disapproval We looked askance at the strangers.

More from Merriam-Webster on askance

Nglish: Translation of askance for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!