ascertain

verb
as·​cer·​tain | \ ˌa-sər-ˈtān How to pronounce ascertain (audio) \
ascertained; ascertaining; ascertains

Definition of ascertain

transitive verb

1 : to find out or learn with certainty ascertain the truth trying to ascertain the cause of the fire information that can be easily ascertained on the Internet
2 archaic : to make certain, exact, or precise

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Other Words from ascertain

ascertainable \ ˌa-​sər-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce ascertainable (audio) \ adjective
ascertainment \ ˌa-​sər-​ˈtān-​mənt How to pronounce ascertainment (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for ascertain

discover, ascertain, determine, unearth, learn mean to find out what one did not previously know. discover may apply to something requiring exploration or investigation or to a chance encounter. discovered the source of the river ascertain implies effort to find the facts or the truth proceeding from awareness of ignorance or uncertainty. attempts to ascertain the population of the region determine emphasizes the intent to establish the facts definitely or precisely. unable to determine the origin of the word unearth implies bringing to light something forgotten or hidden. unearth old records learn may imply acquiring knowledge with little effort or conscious intention (as by simply being told) or it may imply study and practice. I learned her name only today learning Greek

Examples of ascertain in a Sentence

We look at digital media—images, audio and video—and we try to ascertain whether or not they've been manipulated. We use mathematical and computational techniques to detect alterations in them. — Claudia Dreifus, New York Times, 2 Oct. 2007 Currently, an official trying to ascertain road damage in the aftermath of an earthquake might have to keep one eye on the TV news while listening to both radio traffic reports and the police scanner. Since most of these data are available in digital form, the software could take them all in, process them and present a report outlining the best evacuation routes. — Kevin Hogan, Technology Review, April 2002 With an equation linking the money wage to prices, the degree of inflation could be ascertained. — Sidney Weintraub, Modern Economic Thought, (1977) 1993
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Recent Examples on the Web Otherwise federal prosecutors could decide the situation warrants government oversight to ascertain if the union rooted out all the corruption. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "UAW's leadership uncertain, member's confidence shaky after Jones quits," 22 Nov. 2019 Whether the group set a speed record is hard to ascertain. Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, "From Llewellyn Glacier to Emmonak, these men in motorboats traveled the length of the Yukon River in less than 25 days," 31 Aug. 2019 He’s been described as a billionaire or wealthy financier, though the exact amount of his wealth has yet to be ascertained. Fox News, "Jeffrey Epstein's private 'Island of Sin' and sex dolls: 5 weird details to know," 11 July 2019 Dujarric stressed that the board will only ascertain the facts of the attacks and will not assess blame. Washington Post, "UN chief launches Syria inquiry amid protests over secrecy," 13 Sep. 2019 In 21% of the cases, investigators were unable to ascertain the reasons behind the bursts of violence, which were planned for at least a week 77% of the time. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "The mystery of mass shooting motives: What if we never learn why?," 8 Aug. 2019 The extent of forest loss on the Amazon floodplain is difficult to ascertain, but is higher in more populated parts in eastern Brazil. National Geographic, "Amazon fish species at risk if fires destroy river habitat," 13 Sep. 2019 Back in April, scientists were able to finally ascertain physical proof of their existence in a new, historic photo. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "That Big Black Hole of Ours Sure Is Getting Hungry," 13 Sep. 2019 Bell painstakingly ascertained the layout of Kashyapa’s fantastical city as well as detailed the magnificent carving of the lion’s paws at the entrance, which Forbes had not been able to see. National Geographic, "The 'Lion Fortress' of Sri Lanka was swallowed by the jungle," 3 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ascertain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ascertain

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for ascertain

Middle English acertainen to inform, give assurance to, from Anglo-French acerteiner, from a- (from Latin ad-) + certein, certain certain

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Time Traveler for ascertain

Time Traveler

The first known use of ascertain was in the 15th century

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Statistics for ascertain

Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Ascertain.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Ascertaining. Accessed 16 December 2019.

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More Definitions for ascertain

ascertain

verb
as·​cer·​tain | \ ˌa-sər-ˈtān How to pronounce ascertain (audio) \
ascertained; ascertaining

Kids Definition of ascertain

: to find out with certainty Police tried to ascertain the cause of the accident.

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