delve

verb
\ 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

delve

noun

Definition of delve (Entry 2 of 2)

archaic

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from delve

Verb

delver noun

Synonyms for delve

Synonyms: Noun

antre, cave, cavern, grot, grotto

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Digging Up the History of Delve

Verb

We must dig deep into the English language's past to find the origins of "delve." The verb originated in 9th century Old English as "delfan" and is related to the Old High German word telban, meaning "dig." For some 400 years, there was only delving - no digging - because "dig" didn't exist until the 13th century. 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 as recently as the late 19th century, "dig" was the term for working with a mattock (a tool similar to an adze or a pick), while "delve" was reserved for 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

MoMA has covered Le Corbusier ad infinitum, and its 2015 Latin American architecture exhibition delved deeply into the use of modernism (including concrete) to construct new neighborhoods, cities, and universities across Central and South America. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "Concrete utopia," 12 July 2018 For instance, Ron sees there being a great opportunity to delve deeper into William's relationship with Beth in season 4, since fans have previously gotten some important glimpses into their friendship. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Ron Cephas Jones Isn't Ready to Say Goodbye to William," 19 Mar. 2019 The Oscar-winning film delved into the tragic tale of two cowboys who fall in love and starred Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger. Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Seattle Times, "‘Jurassic Park,’ ‘Shining’ added to National Film Registry," 12 Dec. 2018 By inspiring her to delve deeper into her heritage, identify more strongly as a Jew? Peggy Orenstein, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why I Took My Daughter to Auschwitz," 11 Oct. 2018 Soraya Chemaly’s book Rage Becomes Her and Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad are both recent books delving into the way women’s fury have created a more just world. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "With Kavanaugh Confirmed, It’s Time to Burn It Down," 6 Oct. 2018 Campbell, who was elevated to president in January, expressed frustration with the council’s lack of authority to delve into specific items in the budget like other governing bodies, such as the Legislature, can do. Milton J. Valencia, BostonGlobe.com, "Council approves Boston spending plan amid concerns of lack of power," 28 June 2018 An Internet search revealed that Grant’s letter was owned by a book dealer in Philadelphia; the Walters bought the document and hired a researcher to spend a year delving into the cook’s life. Mary Carole Mccauley, baltimoresun.com, "In its newly renovated property, Walters Art Museum honors a woman once enslaved there," 5 June 2018 Researchers have only recently started to delve into historical documents to track down areas that were disproportionately bombed in an effort to warn construction companies which zones are high risk. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Unexploded WWII bomb forces mass evacuation in Berlin," 20 Apr. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of delve

Verb

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

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about delve

Listen to Our Podcast about delve

Dictionary Entries near delve

deluvium

deluxe

delvauxite

delve

dely

Dem

dem

Statistics for delve

Last Updated

11 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for delve

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for delve

delve

verb

English Language Learners Definition of delve

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

delve

verb
\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on delve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with delve

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for delve

Spanish Central: Translation of delve

Nglish: Translation of delve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of delve for Arabic Speakers

Comments on delve

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to mark by some ceremony or observation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!