Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


When John Kenyon entered his office, he thought the clerk looked at him askance.

Claude, who was now growing embarrassed, had examined the girl, askance.

The lanky Sucatash looked at him askance, catching the note of sentiment.

Men were apt to look at him askance, half doubtful, half-indignant.

"You speak of the castle as if you knew about it," said the landlady, eyeing her askance.

Men pretending virtues as relentless as his own were often inclined to eye him askance.

They eyed him askance, and eyed each other as they fell behind.

If the people look at me askance, I can't expect any better.

They looked at him askance and then at each other, significantly.

As he bent his head she looked at me askance, and I thought she blushed.


1520s, "sideways, asquint," of obscure origin. OED has separate listings for askance and obsolete Middle English askance(s) and no indication of a connection, but Barnhart and others derive the newer word from the older one. The Middle English word, recorded early 14c. as ase quances and found later in Chaucer, meant "in such a way that; even as; as if;" and as an adverb "insincerely, deceptively." It has been analyzed as a compound of as and Old French quanses (pronounced "kanses") "how if," from Latin quam "how" + si "if."

Also see discussion in Leo Spitzer, "Anglo-French Etymologies," Philological Quarterly 24.23 (1945), and see OED entry for askance (adv.) for discussion of the mysterious ask- word cluster in English. Other guesses about the origin of askance include Old French a escone, from past participle of a word for "hidden;" Italian a scancio "obliquely, slantingly;" or that it is a cognate of askew.



Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.