dig let you see the IP address corresponding to the host name.
There is also the
getent utility that can be used to query
/etc/hosts or other NSS databases.
I am looking for a convenient standard utility (which is available in Debian, say) which resolves a host name regardless of where it is defined.
It should be more or less equivalent to
ping "$HOST" | head -1 | perl -lne '/\((.*?)\)/ && print $1'