\ 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)


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Other Words from delve


delver noun

Synonyms for delve

Synonyms: Noun

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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 Kenny relied on his background as a judge for the American Game Fowl Society’s poultry shows to be able to delve into speaking engagements. Ramona Sentinel, "Birding couple share tips for care and breeding of fowl," 12 Sep. 2019 Before delving into specific tree information, the authors provide the readers, from novices to tree aficionados, with a bit of tree history. Sally Peterson, oregonlive, "Garden book review: ’The Tree Book: Superior Selections for Landscapes’," 9 Sep. 2019 During the first round of rule-making in June, homeowners and others advocating for stronger regulation of oil and gas development in and near communities wanted the COGCC to delve into more issues. Judith Kohler, The Denver Post, "Colorado’s writing of new oil, gas rules off to a rocky start," 3 July 2019 Unfortunately, just as Halston did in life, this documentary avoids delving deeply into the mysterious man. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘Halston’ focuses on designer’s influence on art and business," 13 June 2019 Enter the six-webisode series The Good Place Presents: The Selection, which delves into the literal dark side of the decision-making. Dan Snierson,, "The Bad Place searches for the best worst humans in new Good Place footage," 12 Sep. 2019 Simonson, brave fellow, drank hundreds of martinis researching his book, which delves into the drink’s fascinating history and faux histories, its spinoffs, the evolution of preferences around gin vs. vodka. M. Carrie Allan, Washington Post, "How to make a martini your guests will love — or at least love to argue about," 11 Sep. 2019 Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis will portray Michelle Obama in a Showtime drama series that will delve into the lives of former first ladies. Chevaz Clarke, CBS News, "Viola Davis to play Michelle Obama in new Showtime series," 27 Aug. 2019 Tim McGraw, the Grammy award-winning country music singer, has teamed up with Jon Meacham, an award-winning biographer and professor at Vanderbilt University, for a book that delves into the intersection of politics and music. Leah Asmelash And Saeed Ahmed, CNN, "A country singer and a historian team up to look at all the songs that shaped America," 10 June 2019

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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Statistics for delve

Last Updated

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for delve

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

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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

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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

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a calculated move

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