Generally, an answer is a reply to a question or is a solution, a retaliation, or a response that is relevant to the said question.
In law, an answer was originally a solemn assertion in opposition to some one or something, and thus generally any counter-statement or defense, a reply to a question or response, or objection, or a correct solution of a problem.
In the common law, an answer is the first pleading by a defendant, usually filed and served upon the plaintiff within a certain strict time limit after a civil complaint or criminal information or indictment has been served upon the defendant. It may have been preceded by an optional "pre-answer" motion to dismiss or demurrer; if such a motion is unsuccessful, the defendant must file an answer to the complaint or risk an adverse default judgment.
The answer establishes which allegations (cause of action in civil matters) set forth by the complaining party will be contested by the defendant, and states all the defendant's defenses, thus establishing the nature and parameters of the controversy to be decided by the court.
In a criminal case, there is usually an arraignment or some other kind of appearance before defendant comes to court. The pleading in the criminal case, which is entered on the record in open court, is usually either guilty or not guilty. Generally speaking in private, civil cases there is no plea entered of guilt or innocence. There is only a judgment that grants money damages or some other kind of equitable remedy such as restitution or a permanent injunction. Criminal cases may lead to fines or other punishment, such as imprisonment.
The famous Latin Responsa Prudentium ("answers of the learned ones") were the accumulated views of many successive generations of Roman lawyers, a body of legal opinion which gradually became authoritative.
In music an "answer" (also known as countersubject) is the technical name in counterpoint for the repetition or modification by one part or instrument of a theme proposed by another.
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