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Answer

is the Old English and-swaru, verb and swar-ian or swerian, where And is the preposition = the Latin re in re-spond-eo. (See Swear.)

To answer like a Norman
, that is, evasively.

“We say, in France. ‘Answering like a Norman,’ which means to give an evasive answer, neither yes nor no.” —Max O'Rell; Friend M Donald, ch. v.

To answer its purpose,
to carry out what was expected or what was intended. Celsus says, “Medicina sæpius respondet, interdum tamen fallit.”

To answer the bell
is to go and see what it was rung for.
To answer the door
is to go and open it when a knock or ring has been given.

In both the last two instances the word is “answering to a summons.”

To swear means literally “to affirm something,” and to an-swear is to “say something” by way of rejoinder; but figuratively both the “swer” and the “answer” may be made without words.

... My story being done, ...
She [Desdemona ] swore [affirmed ] 'twas strange,...
'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful.

Shakespeare: Othello, i. 3.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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