A Big Ask – Idiom & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

“A big ask” is an idiom that we’ve all heard and even used before. But do you really know exactly what it means? It’s a simple phrase that’s been around for a while so let’s dive deep into its origin and true meaning. Watch out, “a big ask” is a phrase that packs a punch!

Where Did the Saying ‘A Big Ask’ Come From?

A Big Ask Ngram
A big ask usage trend.

The origin of the idiom “a big ask” likely has its roots dug deep in the idea of making a request or a demand that is large in scope or magnitude. It’s when you ask for something that might be difficult for someone to accomplish or requires them to go above and beyond.

It’s likely that the phrase “a big ask” was first used to describe a specific request that was asking for a lot, and it was used in contrast to asking for something small or simple.

What comes to my mind is when I first asked my parents to help me with a down payment on my first home. That was definitely a big ask for me.

What Is the Actual Meaning?

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“A big ask,” when it boils down to it, means something that’s a large or demanding request. It implies that it’s asking for a lot, and it might not be easily granted.

Using the Phrase the Right Way

Anyone can use the idiom “a big ask,” just remember that the phrase is usually used to indicate a request or demand that is considered challenging or difficult. It implies that it’s asking for a lot, and it might not be easily granted. Here, I’ll show you what I mean with a few sentence examples putting the phrase in context.

Using ‘A Big Ask’ In a Sentence

  • Asking for a raise is a big ask.
  • I know it’s a big ask, but can you help me move this couch?
  • Winning the lottery is a big ask.
  • I’m trying to quit smoking, but it’s a big ask.
  • I need my parents to lend me a down payment for my home, but it’s a big ask, and I’m afraid they’ll say no.

What Are Synonyms for ‘A Big Ask’?

  • A massive favor
  • Important question
  • Impossible request
  • Huge favor
  • Tough ask
  • So much to ask

So, What Does ‘A Big Ask’ Mean in the End?

You can use it however you like, really. But just remember that the idiomatic phrase means you’re asking for a lot. Whether it’s a big chunk of moola for a down payment on a home, or an extension on paper, a big ask is, well, a BIG ask. Hopefully, you will feel more confident using it in speech and writing. Let us know if you’ve got any questions about other idioms.

Enjoyed reading about this idiom? Check out some others we covered: