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On the Diane Rehm show October 14th, the guest kept using “asks” as a noun. For example he referred to the Republican party’s “asks” in the government shut down debate, instead of their “requests”. He used it in this fashion many, many times in the conversation. When did the use of “ask” as a noun become ok and why?
The way our leaders are carrying on, ‘request’ wouldn’t fit the high-strung combative mood. ‘Demand’ would be too strong with it still supposedly a give-and-take talk among equals (if a cutthroat one).
Plus, words used by the panelists on Diane Rehm need to be short and crisp to fit the compressed style- everyone rushes in staccato style 100miles/hr. (Not nice and musical and temperate like, say, AWWW.)
There are sources that claim it went back a thousand years. If so, there must have been a lull close to a thousand years- you are not alone if you feel like it’s a recent invention.
The OED quotes cover about 1000 years (if one discounts the 500-year gap):
Asking, inquiry; thing asked, request.
a1000 Laws of Athelstan §5 in B. Thorpe Anc. Laws Eng. I. 230 HÃ¦fdon ealle Ã°a Ç½scean.
a1230 Juliana 16 He failed of his as.
c1275 (â–¸?a1200) LaÈamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 529 Eouer axe ich eow leue.
1781 T. Twining Let. 8 Dec. in Recreat. & Stud. (1882) 108, I am not so unreasonable as to desire you to..answer all my asks.
1886 ‘Cavendish’ Princ. Whist 127 When your three comes down in the next round, it is not an ask for trumps.
It also has draft additions from 2005:
colloq. (orig. Austral.) (chiefly Sport). With modifying word or phrase, as a big (also huge, etc.) ask : something which is a lot to ask of someone; something difficult to achieve or surmount. Cf. tall order at tall adj. 8d.
1987 Sydney Morning Herald 7 May 40/2 Four measly pounds is what the critics say. But according to his trainer, Johnny Lewis, that four pounds is ‘a big ask’.
1994 J. Birmingham He died with Felafel in his Hand (1997) viii. 177 I’d..get him to wear the underpants consistently for six weeks on the road. (This was not a big ask given Milo’s unwashed jeans-wearing record at King Street.)
2000 Rugby World June 25/1 It was a huge ask of my players, but their attitude throughout the week prior to the game was superb.
2003 Gloucester Citizen (Nexis) 1 Feb. 48 Every week is a bit of an ask—but the squad is very strong.