\ ˈdelv How to pronounce delve (audio) \
delved; delving

Definition of delve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to dig or labor with or as if with a spade delved into her handbag in search of a pen
2a : to make a careful or detailed search for information delved into the past
b : to examine a subject in detail the book delves into the latest research won't delve into her reason for leaving



Definition of delve (Entry 2 of 2)


Other Words from delve


delver noun

Digging Up the History of Delve

We must dig deep into the English language's past to find the origins of delve. The verb traces to the early Old English word delfan and is related to the Old High German word telban, meaning "to dig." For centuries, there was only delving—no digging—because dig didn't exist until much later; it appears in early Middle English. Is the phrase "dig and delve" (as in the line "eleven, twelve, dig and delve," from the nursery rhyme that begins "one, two, buckle my shoe") redundant? Not necessarily. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, in some local uses, dig was the term for working with a mattock (a tool similar to an adze or a pick), while delve was reserved for work done using a spade.

Examples of delve in a Sentence

Verb He tried to delve inside his memory for clues about what had happened. Noun a poem in which a medieval knight encounters a mysterious beauty in a darkened delve
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The format plays like an in-depth aural version of an advice column: Each episode begins with listeners sharing their situation, then Gottlieb and Winch delve into their history, patterns and coping mechanisms and offer their own insights. New York Times, 21 Dec. 2021 The season 6 premiere, which airs Jan. 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, will delve into other Pearson family drama, of course. Dan Snierson,, 17 Dec. 2021 In Phoenix, agents from the Justice Department will delve intobiased police behavior first reported by The Republic, including an examination of how police respond to people who are disabled or experiencing homelessness., 15 Dec. 2021 In the unlikely event that nothing here catches your eye, delve into the rest of our exhaustive Cyber Monday coverage. Wired, 29 Nov. 2021 For instance, a high school in East Los Angeles may delve deeply into the Chicano movement while in Glendale, schools could decide to examine the Armenian immigrant experience. Los Angeles Times, 10 Nov. 2021 Tobia Zambotti would delve into a solution, and would ultimately create the COAT-19, a puffer jacket that is stuffed with recycled [and sanitized] masks found on the streets. Cassell Ferere, Forbes, 27 Oct. 2021 On Tuesday, the chairmen of the House and Senate education committees will delve into the Legislature’s recent actions. Talia Richman, Dallas News, 9 July 2021 The pandemic also provided the time -- plenty of it -- for Tolkien devotees to delve even deeper into his world. Scottie Andrew, CNN, 19 Dec. 2021

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for delve

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Old English delfan; akin to Old High German telban to dig

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Time Traveler for delve

Time Traveler

The first known use of delve was before the 12th century

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Statistics for delve

Last Updated

11 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Delve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for delve



English Language Learners Definition of delve

: to search for information about something
: to reach into a bag, container, etc., in order to find something


\ ˈdelv How to pronounce delve (audio) \
delved; delving

Kids Definition of delve

1 : to dig or work hard with or as if with a shovel
2 : to work hard looking for information

More from Merriam-Webster on delve

Nglish: Translation of delve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of delve for Arabic Speakers


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