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 An exact count is impossible to ascertain, probably — but more than a hundred. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "‘They like to send our kids to war,’ &c.," 9 Jan. 2020 But in many ways, finding a course of action called for the same process medical practitioners have been following forever: Communicate with the patient to ascertain the problem, research the available literature and come up with a treatment. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "The outer limits of medicine: How doctors treated an astronaut's blood clot in space," 8 Jan. 2020 Because there was no control arm, the study’s impact on health outcomes can’t be properly ascertained, pointed out health journalist Larry Husten in STAT. Paul Hudson, Fortune, "Pharma Needs to Stop Chasing Shiny Objects and Start Embracing Practical Technology," 7 Jan. 2020 As usual in Malick’s work, plot is subsumed by image and idea, and here the entire narrative arc can be ascertained from the trailer. Lidija Haas, The New Republic, "The Heavy-Handed Moralism of Terrence Malick’s New Film," 13 Dec. 2019 The most notable provision would require payday, vehicle title and some installment lenders to ascertain, in advance, a borrower’s ability to repay the loan without sacrificing basic living expenses like rent and food. Anjali Tsui, ProPublica, "They Loan You Money. Then They Get a Warrant for Your Arrest.," 3 Dec. 2019 The latest findings on the cultural basis of singing have ascertained that certain song types—whether lullaby, dance, love or healing melodies—turn up in all cultures. Jim Daley, Scientific American, "What Makes a Song? It’s the Same Recipe in Every Culture," 21 Nov. 2019 Moore quickly ascertained online that the average cost for a pair of ultrasounds is about $500 — meaning the medical center’s original $2,758 charge represented a more than 400% markup. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Insured price: $2,758. Cash price: $521. Could our healthcare system be any dumber?," 30 July 2019 How often it was used and in what specific paintings has been difficult for art historians to ascertain, but the color remained in use until the Romantic painters of the late 19th century. National Geographic, "Europe's morbid 'mummy craze' has been an obsession for centuries," 10 Dec. 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

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ascertain.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ascertaining. Accessed 27 January 2020.

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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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Comments on ascertain

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