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In context, when would it be appropriate to use "answer" or "response"? I always tend to use "answer" personally, but I have always this nagging feeling I could be wrong.

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Nice question. (← an example of a response to the question which is not an answer) –  Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 18 '10 at 14:05
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Ironically, it contribute to understand the answer. –  Eldroß Nov 18 '10 at 14:08
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In most forums, there are responses (vaguely related to the initial post), on StackExchange, there are answers (directly addressing the question, in a comprehensive and definitive manner). –  dbkk Nov 18 '10 at 18:45
    
A response can be an answer or a well-thought reaction. The best translation of "answer" in French would be "réponse". –  Wok Nov 19 '10 at 7:49
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3 Answers 3

up vote 22 down vote accepted

Response is a very broad term, and includes all reactions to a stimulus.

Answer is more specifically a response to a direct question.

One can always respond to anything (an event, an injury, a letter, a speech, a question...) but one can only answer a question. As Emanuil said, it's also possible to respond to a question without actually answering it; listen to politicians being interviewed.

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Possibly amusing aside: it's also possible to respond to a statement, "answering" it like it's a question. For example, athletes do this all the time when being interviewed. Not that this is correct...just mentioning it :) –  Andy Nov 18 '10 at 16:14
    
What about if someone says "Answer me!" but only wants some kind of response? –  glenneroo Dec 16 '10 at 16:17
    
Isn't "respond" also less used and more formal than "answer" ? –  user23288 Jul 9 '12 at 9:14
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"response" requires something you are responding to and it doesn't have to contain an answer. You can respond to a question without answering it.

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So, if I understand you correctly answer would imply some kind of result? –  Eldroß Nov 18 '10 at 12:03
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"Response" is from Latin (responsum), while "answer" is from Old English (noun: andswaru, verb: answarian.).

I always use Fowler's rule: Prefer the Saxon word to the Romance.

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protected by RegDwigнt Jul 9 '12 at 9:16

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