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)

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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

Kapelsohn’s testimony clashed with the statements of forensic and medical experts hired by the LeGrier family. Dan Hinkel,, "Chicago cop justified in shooting bat-wielding teen, city expert testifies," 22 June 2018 This corroborates the findings of four independent forensic reports previously submitted to the court that also showed he did not have the app. Salil Shetty, Time, "Today I Visited My Turkish Colleague in Prison. Erdogan’s Crackdown Must Stop," 20 June 2018 But the forensic report from her hospital exam confirmed elements of her story, and experts testified about the shoddiness of the investigation. Ruth Padawer, New York Times, "Should Statutes of Limitations for Rape Be Abolished?," 19 June 2018 Pulling from police and victim filings, forensic reports and newspaper clippings, Eatwell makes the case that Leslie Dillon, a bellhop, aspiring writer and former mortician’s assistant, was the killer. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "British Author Takes Fresh Look at the Black Dahlia Murder," 30 Jan. 2018 Bradford died of three gunshot wounds to the back of his head, neck and torso, according to a forensic report commissioned by his family. Jay Reeves, The Seattle Times, "Lawyer: Man charged in mall shooting didn’t start the melee," 5 Dec. 2018 The remains returned by North Korea included one dog tag belonging to an American service member, said John Byrd, a forensic anthropologist and director of scientific analysis for the DPAA. Peter Nicholas, WSJ, "Pence Says Return of Soldiers’ Remains Shows U.S. Progress on North Korea," 1 Aug. 2018 Officials in Florida hope their farm, to be used at first by detectives and forensic anthropologists at the nearby University of South Florida, will draw scientists from other countries and grow to be the largest in the world. Tamara Lush, Popular Mechanics, "'Body Farm' In Florida Will Help Detectives Understand How Corpses Decompose," 13 May 2017 Since 2015, advances in forensic techniques have improved the DPAA's searching abilities within the Hawaiian waters and by 2020 hopes to have ID'd around 80 percent of the missing. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "After 77 Years, We're Still Identifying Men Who Died at Pearl Harbor," 7 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

At a conference of law-enforcement forensics officials last week, someone asked David Miles what would happen if Apple Inc. Robert Mcmillan, WSJ, "Meet Apple’s Security Headache: The GrayKey, a Startup’s iPhone-Hacking Box," 14 June 2018 Cuba’s chief forensics official, Jorge Gonzalez, said all families had been contacted and asked to provide blood and objects such as photographs and toothbrushes that could be used in identifications. Washington Post, "Cubans mourn plane crash dead, officials ID 20 bodies," 20 May 2018 The spokesman said team members included a forensics expert tasked with covering up evidence in the event force had to be used against Mr. Khashoggi. Ian Talley, WSJ, "Saudis to Seek Death Penalty in Khashoggi Killing," 15 Nov. 2018 And an Illinois State Police forensics expert has testified about bullets and shell casings found at the scene, which all came from the same gun. Fox News, "The Latest: Jury views photos of Laquan McDonald's wounds," 19 Sep. 2018 No longer were forensics experts in oversize hazmat suits combing the area for an invisible killer developed by the Soviet Union in Cold War times. Washington Post, "UK town faces new reality: Another nerve agent poisoning," 6 July 2018 The resulting report, entitled NFPA 921, was not welcomed by the forensics community in any way whatsoever, with seasoned investigators balking at the idea of admitting their shortcomings. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, "The 1991 Firestorm That Changed Everything We Thought We Knew About Arson," 8 Nov. 2018 However, the phones’ constituent parts could be used or work without cellular service, a computer forensics official told the Chronicle. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "Apple Store robberies continue in Bay Area, with 9 stores hit this month," 27 Sep. 2018 The widely accepted account that hijackers commandeered and crashed the four 9/11 planes is supported by reams of evidence, from cockpit recordings to forensics to the fact that crews and passengers never returned home. Popular Mechanics, "Debunking 9/11 Myths: About the Airplanes," 11 Sep. 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.

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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

29 Jan 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 , -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

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

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a servile follower or underling

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