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 ascertain (audio) \ adjective
ascertainment \ ˌa-​sər-​ˈtān-​mənt How to pronounce ascertain (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 But did the Rams call the Packers to ascertain whether Rodgers was available? Los Angeles Times, "Rams GM Les Snead won’t say if team tried to trade for Aaron Rodgers," 30 Apr. 2021 To ascertain whether there were safety problems in the buildings at the time of the fires, reporters requested fire and police reports for each incident. Cecilia Reyes,, "The Failures Before the Fires: How we reported this story," 24 Apr. 2021 Signatures are being validated to ascertain whether the requisite number was reached to put the question on the ballot in the fall. Jake Dima, Washington Examiner, "Caitlyn Jenner files paperwork to run for California governor as a Republican," 23 Apr. 2021 Their frequency and severity are impossible to ascertain several months in advance. J.d. Morris, San Francisco Chronicle, "California braces for extreme 2021 wildfire season - it's very dry out there," 11 Apr. 2021 You might be tempted to say that if the self-driving car can ascertain that the other car is also a self-driving car, the AI can essentially let down its guard and assume that the other self-driving car will come to a proper stop. Lance Eliot, Forbes, "Self-Driving Cars Grappling With Human Drivers That Blow Through Stop Signs," 7 Apr. 2021 In fact, advancements in AI technology can ascertain who is watching. Michelle Abdow, Forbes, "Media Consumption Is Over The Top: How Much And Where To Spend Is Key To Maximizing ROI," 8 Apr. 2021 On the intranet site, incorporate gamification and interactive methods such as rewards, surveys and playables to ascertain feedback. Expert Panel®, Forbes, "10 Ways To Collect Team Feedback On Internal-Facing Tech," 4 Mar. 2021 Whether such methods are reliably effective is difficult to ascertain, and, practitioners acknowledge, there is little research on outcomes. Michael Schulson/undark, Popular Science, "Can you ‘deprogram’ people who join cults?," 4 Mar. 2021

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

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ascertain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for ascertain


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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Comments on ascertain

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