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) Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 14:05
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    Ironically, it contribute to understand the answer.
    – Eldroß
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 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
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 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
    Commented Nov 19, 2010 at 7:49

3 Answers 3


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.

  • 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
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 16:14
  • What about if someone says "Answer me!" but only wants some kind of response?
    – glenneroo
    Commented Dec 16, 2010 at 16:17
  • Isn't "respond" also less used and more formal than "answer" ?
    – user23288
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 9:14

"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.

  • So, if I understand you correctly answer would imply some kind of result?
    – Eldroß
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 12:03

"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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