consult

1 of 2

verb

con·​sult kən-ˈsəlt How to pronounce consult (audio)
consulted; consulting; consults

transitive verb

1
: to have regard to : consider
"Adams, consult your own safety, and don't remain here … "Charles Dickens
2
a
: 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
consulter noun

consult

2 of 2

noun

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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

Verb 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. Noun it was time for a change of do, which called for a consult with her hairdresser See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Those who develop the disease should consult a health professional to ensure the infection does not turn into a worse illness like shingles. Ella Gonzales, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 22 Feb. 2024 Editors consulted experts across industries to gather over 400 contenders, then rolled up their sleeves and extensively tested these products in a variety of settings, including real-life homes. Danielle Chemtob, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 The Field Museum plans to consult with several regional tribes — including the Hopi — on the bowl’s significance. Julia Jacobs, New York Times, 21 Feb. 2024 Thomas-Greenfield invited other governments to consult on the document but gave no indication of when it might be offered for a vote. Karen Deyoung, Washington Post, 21 Feb. 2024 The actor and her lawyer consulted with Tokyo police in September that year, and filed a formal complaint in 2023. Patrick Frater, Variety, 21 Feb. 2024 Vajpayee delegated power to his cabinet ministers, consulted opposition leaders, and welcomed debate in Parliament. Ramachandra Guha, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Stark’s focus on helping fellow tech companies and the ability to customize solutions for clients is an advantage compared with large Brazilian banks, said Bruno Diniz, a managing partner at consulting firm Spiralem, which works with fintechs. Daniel Cancel, Fortune, 19 Feb. 2024 Investors should consult their tax advisor regarding federal, state, and local tax considerations that may be applicable in their particular circumstances. Sacramento Bee, 9 Feb. 2024
Noun
Kenji Yoshino, a New York University law professor and director of the Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, consults with Fortune 500 companies on the legal risks facing DEI programs. Julian Mark, Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2024 There were 149 different consults conducted via live texting and evaluated by both the patient actors and human specialists. IEEE Spectrum, 25 Jan. 2024 Whether that means hiring a designer for a full plan set or even just hiring a designer for a consult, hiring a professional who is well versed in climate-appropriate gardens will pay for itself. Caron Golden, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Jan. 2024 In this consult, your doctor or nurse practitioner will parse out which symptoms are related to menopause and provide knowledge about treatment options. Kelly Conaboy, SELF, 13 Dec. 2023 Some years ago, the adult child of a patient with a necrotic foot asked for a wound consult. Julie Roskamp, STAT, 24 Nov. 2023 These all-inclusive itineraries also feature complimentary consults, lectures, fitness classes, specialty programming, and a daily spa or Trail House credit, which can be used for outdoor activities like hiking and biking. Lauren Dana Ellman, Travel + Leisure, 3 Dec. 2023 This is the sort of thing an elder lawyer consults on. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 5 Dec. 2023 Doctors and other medical professionals who generally work on inpatient units came to him for specialty consults, blood work, medical imaging and other services. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'consult.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb and Noun

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

First Known Use

Verb

1527, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1560, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of consult was in 1527

Dictionary Entries Near consult

Cite this Entry

“Consult.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consult. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

consult

verb
con·​sult
kən-ˈsəlt
1
: to seek the opinion or advice of
consult a doctor
2
: to seek information from
consult a dictionary
3
: to talk something over
have to consult with my lawyer
consulter noun

Medical Definition

consult

transitive verb
con·​sult kən-ˈsəlt How to pronounce consult (audio)
: to ask the advice or opinion of
consult a doctor

More from Merriam-Webster on consult

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