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

Farmers from Atenco and other communities close to the new Mexico City airport — which is about one-third completed — say they were never consulted. Mark Stevenson, Fox News, "Protesters: New Mexico City airport will hurt environment," 23 Aug. 2018 One mother said neither she nor any other family member had been consulted about medication given to her daughter, even though Shiloh had their contact details. NBC News, "U.S. centers force migrant children to take drugs: lawsuit," 21 June 2018 McCants’ family was consulted and agreed with the sentence, prosecutors said. Kevin Grasha,, "Man sentenced in fatal stabbing near Oakley Square," 11 June 2018 The commissioner said he wasn’t consulted by Malloy or his staff or any legislative leader about the last-minute decision to shift responsibility for the regional market from his agency to the CRDA. Kenneth R. Gosselin,, "Sudden Change In Ownership For Hartford Regional Market Stirs Fears For Future," 7 June 2018 Jon Luther, the organization's president, said in an interview Friday that his group has never been consulted on solutions to the city's affordability crisis. Kevin Litten,, "Inclusionary zoning inaction baffles John Bel Edwards: report," 4 June 2018 The San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel sued the district to try to nullify its deal with Democracy Prep, arguing that Stewart’s teachers weren’t consulted, as the law also requires. Alia Malik, San Antonio Express-News, "Union loses injunction request in lawsuit against SAISD charter deal," 4 June 2018 However, the head of the NFL Players Association, the union that represents professional football players, lashed out at the league's decision, saying that it hadn't been consulted before the decision was made. Paula Rogo,, "NFL Will Fine Players Who Kneel In Protest During National Anthem," 24 May 2018 The National Football League Players Association issued a statement saying in part the union was not consulted about the new policy and added the new policy isn't consistent to statements to the union by Goodell and some NFL owners. Geoffrey C. Arnold,, "NFL approves new national anthem policy, bans kneeling or sitting," 23 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Doctors at the hospital consult with their counterparts in the Caribbean, says Victor Blanchette, co-chairman of the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative. Lucette Lagnado, WSJ, "Young Cancer Patients in Poor Countries Get a Boost," 26 Sep. 2018 In May, Ouskouian allegedly diagnosed a man, who has not been identified, regarding a growth on his neck in a consult room at UCI. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Former California college student charged after pretending to be doctor, diagnosing man, officials say," 30 Aug. 2018 Foy said Grassley’s blue-slip policy is like Biden’s, who required that the White House consult with home-state senators on each nomination, regardless of the blue-slip situation. Salvador Rizzo, Washington Post, "Are Senate Republicans killing ‘blue slip’ for court nominees?," 21 Feb. 2018 In some cases, the primary care team may be able to save the patient a visit to a specialist, through what is called an electronic consultation, or e-consult. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Three reasons why young, healthy people want a primary care provider," 13 June 2018 That included a requirement that the district consult with the union on policy changes. New York Times, "Can Weak Unions Get Teachers More Money?," 5 May 2018 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

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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Statistics for consult

Last Updated

8 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on consult

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with consult

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for consult

Spanish Central: Translation of consult

Nglish: Translation of consult for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of consult for Arabic Speakers

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).


to enclose within walls

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