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 forensic (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 Maricopa County election officials have released their election machine forensic audit and concluded there were no election irregularities. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Maricopa County forensic audit of Dominion software shows no irregularities," 23 Feb. 2021 The suite of tests will provide details about the girl’s eye and skin color, her ethnicity and the geographic origin of ancestry, said Dr. Nici Vance, the state’s forensic anthropologist. oregonlive, "‘We are throwing everything at it’: Genetic genealogy may help ID girl found off Oregon highway," 13 Jan. 2021 Authorities gathered the remains on Saturday from the home in Pacolet and will send them to a forensic anthropologist to study, Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said in a statement. CBS News, "Baby's remains found in wall during home renovations in South Carolina," 5 Jan. 2021 The urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed some unlikely scientists into the fray, including a forensic anthropologist and a conservation biologist, egged on by their frisky African gray parrot. Eleanor Cummins, Science, "Bats, museums, and viruses collide in this scientific love story," 4 Dec. 2020 Little else was known and the case stagnated for over two decades until a state police forensic anthropologist reexamined the skull in 2008. Fox News, "Oregon detectives release new sketch of woman whose skull was found on Mount Hood in 1986 after vanishing," 26 Nov. 2020 Dingfelder said a forensic anthropologist confirmed that the remains included at least three people, but their identities, genders, and ages were still under investigation. NBC News, "Suspect nicknamed 'Psycho' wanted after 3 sets of human remains discovered in Colorado," 19 Nov. 2020 According to Tim Thompson, a forensic anthropologist at Teesside University in the UK, brains don't typically survive for long after death. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Archaeologists find evidence of neurons in glassy brain of Vesuvius victim," 5 Oct. 2020 The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office is investigating his death and a spokeswoman said a forensic anthropologist will help the medical examiner determine whether foul play factored into his death. Andrew Boryga,, "Details emerge about missing Boca man, but mystery surrounding his death remains," 26 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Her boyfriend’s brother, the kind woman from the forensic-anthropologists team who had made all the arrangements, and me and Bonnie. Daniel Loedel, The Atlantic, "My Sister Was Disappeared 43 Years Ago," 17 Jan. 2021 The new method could beef up the field of hair forensics, which has a checkered history. Eva Frederick, Science | AAAS, "Scientists can now identify someone from a single strand of hair," 21 Nov. 2019 Norcross also claimed he was deprived of a fair trial because of perjured testimony by a ballistics expert with more than 30 year of experience working with the Baltimore police crime lab and Maryland State Police forensics division. Washington Post, "Federal judge rejects latest appeal from murder convict," 31 Mar. 2020 Navy officials speaking at a Pentagon press briefing Tuesday would not detail the forensics conducted after the case was reported, other than to say lessons are being learned and new best practices are being put into place. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "Three sailors test positive for coronavirus in first cases on a Navy ship at sea," 24 Mar. 2020 Students will gain a greater understanding of biology, forensics, and epidemiology, and artists intrigued by fractal geometry can find new shapes to inform their designs. Popular Science, "Microscopes for students and hobbyists who want to continue exploring the world around them," 15 Mar. 2020 Sloppy forensics, corrupt officers and haphazard investigations left few cases solved. Paulina Villegas, New York Times, "He Was One of Mexico’s Deadliest Assassins. Then He Turned on His Cartel.," 14 Dec. 2019 DeSouza was arrested after authorities matched a fingerprint from the state police forensics lab with those obtained from Canadian police on file for Allan Mann. David Owens,, "Canadian man suspected of kidnapping son in 1987 and living under assumed name in Vernon pleads guilty to federal charge, faces extradition to Canada," 22 Aug. 2019 GrayKey is a forensics tool used by law enforcement to access locked and encrypted iPhones. Brian Barrett, Wired, "Security News This Week: Ransomware Groups Promise Not to Hit Hospitals Amid Pandemic," 21 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for forensic

Time Traveler

The first known use of forensic was in 1659

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Statistics for forensic

Last Updated

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Forensic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on forensic

Nglish: Translation of forensic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of forensic for Arabic Speakers

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