\ 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)


Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from delve


delver noun

Synonyms for delve

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Digging Up the History of Delve


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 The developing limited series will depict all of this drama and more, hopefully delving into the shadowy secrets of Baskins’ origin story as a conservationist. Ineye Komonibo,, "Netflix’s Tiger King Story Is Far From Over — An SNL Star Is Bringing Carole Baskin’s Story To Life," 26 Mar. 2020 Officials told the companies that the government would soon launch a research database and asked them to develop tools that could help researchers delve into the data. New York Times, "Stocks Plunge, With Dow in Bear Market: Live Updates," 11 Mar. 2020 In our latest episode of she delves into all the skin care products, tricks, tips, and tools that help her maintain a healthy glow. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Watch Tina Craig of Bag Snob Share Her Nightly Skin Care Routine," 5 Mar. 2020 But delving into the subject of slavery with this much intensity relies on a teacher’s knowledge and their comfort level on the subject. al, "Alabama’s black history runs deep, but some students skim the surface," 1 Mar. 2020 With a military rhythm and aching falsetto, the track bears traces of Radiohead and Tyler the Creator while delving into Overall’s own political and personal struggles. Aidin Vaziri,, "Listen: Justin Bieber is desperate but not serious on ‘Changes’," 11 Feb. 2020 The nearly whole house renovation Andy and Megan Bergholz delved into at their 1956 Garrison Colonial in Whitefish Bay in the spring of 2019 started with a minor leak over their garage roof. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Inspired by a roof leak, Whitefish Bay couple launch a 545-square-foot addition and whole-house overhaul," 6 Feb. 2020 The latest estimate is up from $30.7 trillion in 2018 and $29 trillion in 2017, the first year adjustments were tracked in a concerted way, according to Pentagon figures and a lawmaker who has delved into the accounting morass. Tony Capaccio,, "Pentagon racks up $35 trillion in accounting adjustments in one year," 22 Jan. 2020 Recent episodes have delved into Cavallari’s falling-out with former best friend Kelly Henderson in the aftermath of the rumor that Henderson and Cavallari’s husband Jay Cutler were having an affair. Aurelie Corinthios,, "Kristin Cavallari's Employee Brittainy Is 'Freaking Out' over Pregnancy Scare on Very Cavallari," 22 Jan. 2020

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


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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about delve

Time Traveler for delve

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about delve

Statistics for delve

Last Updated

29 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Delve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Apr. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for delve


How to pronounce delve (audio)

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


\ 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for delve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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