con·sult | \ kən-ˈsəlt \
consulted; consulting; consults

Definition of consult 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to have regard to : consider "Adams, consult your own safety, and don't remain here … " —Charles Dickens

2a : to ask the advice or opinion of consult a doctor consult a lawyer

b : to refer to consult a dictionary

intransitive verb

1 : to consult an individual consulted with experts on the matter

2 : to deliberate together : confer … the three powers would consult on how to ameliorate the internal political conflict … —W. S. Vucinich

3 : to serve as a consultant


con·sult | \ kən-ˈsəlt , ˈkän-ˌsəlt \

Definition of consult (Entry 2 of 2)

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Other words from consult


consulter noun

confer vs. consult

Confer and consult are very closely related in meaning, and each has senses that are synonymous with the other’s. But as is so often the case with near-synonyms, there are contexts in which one word is preferable to the other.

If you confer with someone, it is entirely possible that you will be seeking advice, but you could also simply be having a discussion (“they conferred privately before making a decision”). If you are consulting someone or something, it is more likely that you are seeking advice (“he consulted his doctor before deciding on a course of treatment”). Consult is unambiguously the correct choice when one is seeking guidance or information from a non-human source; you would consult (not confer with) a dictionary for information on a word.

The sense of confer that is concerned with giving something (as in, “education confers many benefits”) is not shared by consult.

Examples of consult in a Sentence


consult a lawyer about a business matter You should not attempt these exercises without first consulting your doctor. He made the decision without consulting me. I expect to be consulted on important decisions. I don't remember that part of the meeting; I'll have to consult my notes.


it was time for a change of do, which called for a consult with her hairdresser
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Brown then returns to her car to consult with fellow officers about whether to arrest Sarah Webb or just give her a ticket. Fox News, "Video shows cops using coin flip to decide whether to arrest," 13 July 2018 But others argue that cheaper services could encourage clients to consult their lawyers more. The Economist, "Law firms climb aboard the AI wagon," 12 July 2018 Department of Corrections spokesman Tristan Cook said supervisors are expected to consult with their workers on the best ways to safely run the state's prisons. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "GOP leaders say wage increases not on table despite Wisconsin prison overtime costs, staffing shortage," 12 July 2018 The company also has agreed to consult with the province on executive compensation. Maria Armental, WSJ, "Canadian Utility Hydro One’s Board, CEO Leave Under Agreement With Province of Ontario," 11 July 2018 Anyone who recently ate Venezuelan crab meat and is feeling ill is urged to consult their primary care provider. Scott Dance,, "Marylanders warned to avoid Venezuelan crab meat after nine sickened by Vibrio bacteria," 7 July 2018 Clay Buchholz, placed on the 10-day DL Monday with a left oblique strain, won’t throw until returning to Phoenix to consult with team doctors. Harvey Fialkov, azcentral, "Arizona Diamondbacks' Jon Jay, despite current slump, feels right at home in Miami," 28 June 2018 Health care companies are seeing a growing number of people who are not only willing but demanding to consult medical professionals online. Hannah Holzer, sacbee, "The doctor will see you now – online. Virtual house calls offered widely in Sacramento region," 22 June 2018 Today, scientists spend more time on the ground and are sometimes legally obligated to consult with communities to receive a research permit. Hannah Hoag, Science | AAAS, "Fieldwork in the Arctic is surprisingly costly, limiting the research done there," 18 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Mayor Jacob Frey has called for the release of body camera footage after the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension completes interviews with key witnesses and consults with the family. Youssef Rddad, The Seattle Times, "Family: Minneapolis police shooting not justified as man ran," 9 July 2018 If the president consults and cooperates with the Senate, or moderates his selections absent consultation, then his nominees may enjoy my support as did Justices Kennedy and Souter. NBC News, "McConnell went 'nuclear' to confirm Gorsuch. But Democrats changed Senate filibuster rules first.," 28 June 2018 Its services range from digital urgent care to virtual visits for follow-up appointments to peer-to-peer consults between physicians. Steven J. Corwin, Recode, "Let’s make telemedicine available to all," 25 June 2018 To screen or not to screen for prostate cancer is a question that men aged 55 to 69 should decide themselves in consult with their doctors, according to finalized guidance from an influential panel of health care experts. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "Prostate cancer screening: Should you or shouldn't you?," 8 May 2018 There will be plenty of laughs, door prizes and imprompu design consults during the evening., "Win Tickets to The Scott Brothers' House Party," 23 Aug. 2017 Think of sharing your plans as a courtesy, not a consult. Carolyn Hax, Detroit Free Press, "Hitting the pause button on a good relationship," 8 May 2018 For specifics on that program, consult Bill Belichick. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Sunday Punch: Sexy thoughts, cheap shots & bon mots," 5 May 2018 Jeff Green leaned on Kyle Korver to change his 3-point fortunes Green consults, who else, Korver Jeff Green posted a season-high 33 points and connected on 5-of-6 3-pointers. Joe Vardon,, "Cavaliers don't care if they blew chance at easier playoff path: Inside Cavs-Sixers," 6 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'consult.' 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 consult


1527, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1560, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for consult


Middle French or Latin; Middle French consulter, from Latin consultare, frequentative of consulere to deliberate, counsel, consult


see consult entry 1

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Phrases Related to consult

consulting room

Statistics for consult

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for consult

The first known use of consult was in 1527

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More Definitions for consult



English Language Learners Definition of consult

: to go to (someone, such as a doctor or lawyer) for advice : to ask for the professional opinion of (someone)

: to talk about something with (someone) in order to make a decision

: to look for information in (something, such as a book or map)


con·sult | \ kən-ˈsəlt \
consulted; consulting

Kids Definition of consult

1 : to seek the opinion or advice of consult a doctor

2 : to seek information from consult a dictionary

3 : to talk something over I'll have to consult with my lawyer.


transitive verb
con·sult | \ kən-ˈsəlt \

Medical Definition of consult 

: to ask the advice or opinion of consult a doctor

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Comments on consult

What made you want to look up consult? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

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