fo·​ren·​sic | \ fə-ˈren(t)-sik How to pronounce forensic (audio) , -ˈren-zik How to pronounce forensic (audio) \

Definition of forensic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : belonging to, used in, or suitable to courts of judicature or to public discussion and debate a lawyer's forensic skills
2 : argumentative, rhetorical forensic eloquence
3 : relating to or dealing with the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems forensic medicine forensic science forensic pathologist forensic experts



Definition of forensic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an argumentative exercise
2 forensics plural in form but singular or plural in construction : the art or study of argumentative discourse
3 forensics plural in form but singular or plural in construction : the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems especially : scientific analysis of physical evidence (as from a crime scene)

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Other Words from forensic


forensically \ fə-​ˈren(t)-​si-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce forensically (audio) , -​ˈren-​zi-​ \ adverb

Did You Know?

The noun forensic, meaning “an argumentative exercise” derives from the adjective forensic, whose earliest meaning in English is “belonging to, used in, or suitable to courts or to public discussion and debate.” The English word was derived from a Latin word forensic meaning “of the market place or form, public,” which in turn comes from the Latin word forum, meaning “market place, forum.”

Examples of forensic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Norris is also a former director of the San Francisco Police Department’s forensic services division. Trisha Thadani,, "Adachi family hopes new report will help with ‘restoring his reputation’," 22 Aug. 2019 On this expedition, King and his crew are excavating around the base of a ren tree on the southwest portion of the Nikumaroro, where forensic dogs signaled two years ago that someone had died. Rachel Hartigan Shea, National Geographic, "Colossal crabs may hold clue to Amelia Earhart fate," 20 Aug. 2019 The system can even work on a forensic level too, perhaps to discern if a lightning strike may have started a wildfire. Matt Simon, WIRED, "The Bonkers Tech That Detects Lightning 6,000 Miles Away," 16 Aug. 2019 About 1 in 5 mass murderers shows evidence of psychosis, according to Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist who maintains data on some 350 murderers going back more than a century. Benedict Carey,, "Copycats, video games, mental illness: What we know about mass shootings," 5 Aug. 2019 Even if validated by research, no forensic test is infallible, Stern said. Christian Sheckler, ProPublica, "The Questionable Conviction, and Re-Conviction, of Ricky Joyner," 20 July 2019 The prosecution brought an expert of its own to counter the claim of insanity: forensic psychiatrist Jason Hershberger. Hannah Knowles, Washington Post, "34-year-old Princeton graduate convicted of murdering his father after cut to his allowance," 28 June 2019 Trent Holmberg, a forensic psychiatrist, said most physicians would not consider an offender to have given informed consent to treatment if a judge, not a doctor, read them the effects of the drug, as the Alabama legislation requires. The Washington Post, The Denver Post, "Alabama governor signs “chemical castration” bill for some sex offenders," 11 June 2019 Many of the physician leaders who took on the N.R.A. are women: Esther Choo, an emergency-room doctor; Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist; Stephanie Bonne, a trauma surgeon; Jeannie Moorjani, a pediatrician. Eric Topol, The New Yorker, "Why Doctors Should Organize," 5 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Hany Farid, a professor at UC Berkeley and image-forensics expert whose lab received a grant from Facebook related to its deepfake detection research, said the competition is a big step toward solving an important problem. Rachel Metz, CNN, "Facebook is making its own deepfake videos to help fight them," 5 Sep. 2019 The fact that these videos are made so easily and then widely shared across social media platforms does not bode well for 2020, said Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert at the University of California, Berkeley. Anchorage Daily News, "Deepfake videos pose a threat, but ‘dumbfakes’ may be worse," 19 July 2019 The rifle and Reinosa's uniform, which shows damage consistent with a gunshot in the top right shoulder, will be sent to a crime lab for forensics testing, according to officials. Susan Scutti, CNN, "Police are checking whether a pellet rifle was used to shoot a Southern California deputy," 23 Aug. 2019 Investigators have been reexamining ballistic and DNA evidence for potential new leads in the cold case amid advancements in forensics technology. Colleen Shalby,, "Police reopen 20-year-old cold case investigation of Anaheim teenager’s death," 2 July 2019 Another group of more than 20 forensic, criminology, and data researchers hope to narrow the margins to a single culprit. National Geographic, "A cold case team is searching for who betrayed Anne Frank," 2 Aug. 2019 Camp participants this summer learned basic coding and graphic design, dropped by City Hall, took a bike maintenance class, visited the forensics lab at the Glendale Police Department — and capped it all off by putting on a performance. Glendale News-Press, "Camp Rosie teaches dating-violence prevention alongside arts and crafts," 30 July 2019 Since joining the faculty at CSUSM in 2011, Dominguez, 42, has landed several prestigious grants from NASA and the National Science Foundation in the field of isotopic forensics. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Physics professor brings space science glory to CSUSM," 25 July 2019 Stephenson said a working group made up of Austin police, city legal staff, forensics officials and the Travis County district attorney’s office will meet for the first time next week to discuss the issue. Mark D. Wilson,, "Law and odor: Police hazy on how to use drug-sniffing dogs under Texas hemp law," 23 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'forensic.' 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 forensic


1659, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1814, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for forensic

Adjective and Noun

Latin forensis public, forensic, from forum forum

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Statistics for forensic

Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for forensic

The first known use of forensic was in 1659

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More Definitions for forensic



English Language Learners Definition of forensic

: relating to the use of scientific knowledge or methods in solving crimes
somewhat formal : relating to, used in, or suitable to a court of law


fo·​ren·​sic | \ fə-ˈren(t)-sik How to pronounce forensic (audio) , -ˈren-zik How to pronounce forensic (audio) \

Medical Definition of forensic

: relating to or dealing with the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems especially in regard to criminal evidence a forensic pathologist forensic experts … a forensic technique of DNA analysis allows for the determination of whether a subject with a specific genetic profile has contributed to aggregate genomic data.— Kathy L. Hudson, The New England Journal of Medicine, 15 Sept. 2011


fo·​ren·​sic | \ fə-ˈren-sik, -zik How to pronounce forensic (audio) \

Legal Definition of forensic

1 : belonging to, used in, or suitable to the courts or to public discussion and debate
2 : relating to or dealing with the application of scientific knowledge (as of medicine or linguistics) to legal problems forensic pathology forensic experts

Other Words from forensic

forensically adverb

History and Etymology for forensic

Latin forensis public, forensic, from forum forum

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More from Merriam-Webster on forensic

Spanish Central: Translation of forensic

Nglish: Translation of forensic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of forensic for Arabic Speakers

Comments on forensic

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


concealment of treason or felony

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