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

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Other Words from delve

Verb

delver noun

Synonyms for delve

Synonyms: Noun

antre, cave, cavern, grot, grotto

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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

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Art Museum honors a woman once enslaved there," 5 June 2018 Researchers have only recently started to delve into historical documents to track down areas that were disproportionately bombed in an effort to warn construction companies which zones are high risk.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 The blog C&Rsenal along with its Youtube channel has been delving into the mesmerizing inner workings from a select family of guns, the ones most used in The Great War. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "13 GIFs Take You Inside Some of World War One's Most Crucial Weapons," 23 Dec. 2015 Fashion Over the past few years, Steve Lacy has delved deeper and deeper into the world of fashion. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "Is it Any Surprise That Steve Lacy Won Best Dressed in Eighth Grade?," 26 Mar. 2019 The 2018 film delves deeper into each of the characters' individual trials and tribulations, and of course, features an instantly iconic soundtrack. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "What Is 'A Star Is Born' Really About? Here's a Look at All 4 Versions of the Movie," 24 Feb. 2019 Abramson’s book delves into the erosion — or outright dismissal — of facts and fact-checking, something that The Washington Post and The New York Times do every time President Donald Trump speaks. Nicole Brodeur, The Seattle Times, "Jill Abramson is dealing with every journalist’s biggest nightmare," 20 Feb. 2019 Classes delve into the finer points of chatting with a crush. Mary Ryu, WSJ, "Failing at Love? Maybe It’s Time for Classes," 15 Feb. 2019 To keep the brand’s history intact, the duo delved into the archives. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Eckhaus Latta Reimagines the Ugg With a Deliciously Square Toe," 9 Feb. 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

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

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Dictionary Entries near delve

deluvium

deluxe

delvauxite

delve

dely

dem

Dem

Statistics for delve

Last Updated

13 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for delve

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

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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

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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

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