fo·ren·sic | \ fə-ˈren(t)-sik , -ˈren-zik \

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)

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from forensic


forensically \fə-ˈren(t)-si-k(ə-)lē, -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

Remains brought to South Korea would then be transferred to Hawaii, where painstaking forensic work would be carried out to identify them. New York Times, "North Koreans Are No-Shows at Meeting to Discuss U.S. Soldiers’ Remains," 12 July 2018 The records have surfaced as the Secretary of State’s office conducts a forensic review of the Dec. 5 runoff election between Bottoms and Mary Norwood, a contest decided by 821 votes. Stephen Deere, ajc, "Atlanta mayor’s campaign paid firm registered to election official," 9 July 2018 In light of Kischnick's federal criminal case, Troy officials also said that in order to ensure transparency, the city administration plans to hire a forensic auditor to review city finances. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Ex-Troy city manager Kischnick in trouble again; faces bribery charges," 6 July 2018 Paramedics declared three people dead at the scene, and forensic officers transported the bodies to a morgue. Joel Shannon, USA TODAY, "Woman, declared dead, found alive in morgue freezer," 3 July 2018 Photographs and video clips, as well as expert forensic and weapons analysis, were used to bolster information. Verena Dobnik, The Christian Science Monitor, "Amnesty International: Myanmar military should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity," 27 June 2018 ASAP Analytical sells equipment that helps analysts in forensic labs figure out the content of suspected drugs that cops seize. Terry Demio,, "Covington business grows with the opioid epidemic," 2 July 2018 The awakening was driven in part by advances in forensic anthropology. Matías Costa, Smithsonian, "The Battle Over the Memory of the Spanish Civil War," 28 June 2018 Detectives assisted by deputies and forensic technicians scoured the area in and around the family’s tent Friday. Richard Winton,, "Man shot dead while camping with family in Malibu Creek State Park," 23 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Although those files weren't found on Uber servers, computer forensics experts testified that the information could be stored practically anywhere. Tracey Lien,, "Uber reaches settlement with Waymo in dispute over trade secrets," 10 Feb. 2018 Metzman supposes with abandon, goes in for a few red herrings, and doesn’t shy away from financial forensics. Beth Kephart,, "Frances Metzman's 'Cha-Cha Babes of Pelican Bay': The rules of dancing, life, and rocking thongs in a retirement village," 6 July 2018 Weintraub said the investigation involving the FBI and federal ATF agents is ongoing and more charges might be possible depending on whether forensics link the previous devices and explosions. Fox News, "Owner of chemical sales firm arrested in explosions probe," 28 June 2018 The new space will house instructional areas for physics, biology, chemistry, environmental science, anatomy and forensics labs. Janice Neumann, Daily Southtown, "Marist High School plans to turn monastery into science labs, planetarium," 27 June 2018 Police used surveillance footage from a neighbor across the street and forensics to arrest Ricafrente, Dailey said. Molly Sullivan, sacbee, "Woman faces hate crime charge for ripping bibles, setting fire at church," 14 June 2018 Forensic biology researchers Manfred Kayser and Susan Walsh, among others, have pioneered several DNA phenotyping methods for forensics. Caitlin Curtis And James Hereward, Smithsonian, "How Accurately Can Scientists Reconstruct A Person’s Face From DNA?," 4 May 2018 Using this technique, deep learning systems can be trained to detect small amounts of volatile compounds with potentially wide applications in medicine, forensics, environmental analysis and others. Andrea Soltoggio, Smithsonian, "Artificial Intelligence May Be Able To Smell Illnesses in Human Breath," 12 June 2018 According to USA Today, Barnhart and her forensics team were called to the scene of the May 18 mass shooting as part of a team that included both state and federal investigators. Daniela Sternitzky-di Napoli, Houston Chronicle, "Medical Examiner describes horrific aftermath of Santa Fe shooting," 25 May 2018

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.

See More

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


Latin forensis public, forensic, from forum forum


see forensic entry 1


Latin forensis public, forensic, from forum forum

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about forensic

Statistics for forensic

Last Updated

10 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for forensic

The first known use of forensic was in 1659

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for forensic



English Language Learners Definition of forensic

: relating to the use of scientific knowledge or methods in solving crimes

: relating to, used in, or suitable to a court of law


fo·ren·sic | \ fə-ˈren(t)-sik , -ˈren-zik \

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 \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
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!