\ 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

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 Just before the weekend, Hilary Duff decided to once again delve into the world of bright and bold hair colours. Sarah Midkiff,, "Hilary Duff Just Dyed Her Hair Cotton-Candy Blue," 22 Feb. 2021 Gardens by the Bay and will delve into the history and science of this hub of horticulture through a virtual exploration. New York Times, "Visit a Botanical Garden and Brew Kombucha," 20 Feb. 2021 The actor is also working with Amazon Studios to develop a series about Muhammad Ali, which will delve into his legendary boxing career and civil rights activism. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Michael B. Jordan Is Developing a Muhammad Ali Series for Amazon," 9 Feb. 2021 With social media and YouTube catching fire in the fishing world, more and more anglers are wanting to delve into the world of self-filming. Kristine Fischer, Outdoor Life, "A Last-Minute Fishing Gift Guide for the Diehard Angler on Your List," 17 Dec. 2020 After discovering the Tamburitzans, a Croatian folkloric dance troupe affiliated with local Duquesne University, Stanislav decided to use movement to delve into Pittsburgh’s immigrant experience. Emiliano Granado, Travel, "When the world reopens, will art museums still be there?," 4 Dec. 2020 Rate cases delve into the mechanics of matching costs with revenue — and that's what the PUC needs to do, said Richard Savelkoul, an attorney for Minnesota Energy Consumers. Mike Hughlett, Star Tribune, "Xcel residential rates to remain the same in 2021," 17 Dec. 2020 The Heritage Foundation was surprised that the military leader would delve into politics and guess at future budgetary decisions rather than stick to military analysis and the nation's national security needs. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "Chairman of Joint Chiefs warns defense budgets may ‘decline significantly’ under Biden," 3 Dec. 2020 The benefit of the series is the ability to delve deeper into how Selena’s identity played a part in her journey in the Latin music industry. Washington Post, "‘Selena: The Series’ might be on the small screen, but it paints a bigger picture of the iconic Tejano singer’s life," 3 Dec. 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.

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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

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Delve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for delve



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

Nglish: Translation of delve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of delve for Arabic Speakers

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