Asking for it/trouble

DelTang

Member
Persian - Iran
Hi,
I wonder if there is a difference between asking for it and asking for trouble. Because some dictionaries define them as the same thing, but others define them as different things.

Please take a look at the following sentences. Do the bold parts refer to "trouble" or "what happened to them"?

• Picking a fight with those hooligans was really asking for it.
• Fired? Well, she asked for it, didn't she?
• ‘You shouldn’t have said that to her.’ ‘Well, she asked for it!’
• It’s his own fault he got hit – he was asking for it.
• Did you draw on the wall? Oh, you're asking for it now!
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    To ask for it (in various forms, especially to be asking for it) is an idiom. The it doesn’t necessarily mean anything specific.

    Note that the word ask can be used in variations on the same theme, in the sense of behaving in such a way as to invite a particular response.

    That cake is sitting there just asking to be eaten.
    He was asking for trouble by going to that demo.
    She was asking to be sacked by sleeping with her boss.
     
    Last edited:

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    When "ask for it" does not have an obvious antecedent for "it" then it usually means that the person is likely to receive a nasty punishment, but it can also mean that they can expect trouble in general. Note that in your example sentences, only the first and last sentences don't have an antecedent; the first refers to trouble in general and the last refers to a punishment.
    • Fired? Well, she asked for it, didn't she?
    Her behaviour meant it was likely she would be fired.​
    • ‘You shouldn’t have said that to her.’ ‘Well, she asked for it!’
    Her behaviour led me to say that to her.​
    • It’s his own fault he got hit – he was asking for it.
    His behaviour meant it was likely someone would hit him​
     
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