in·qui·ry | \in-ˈkwī(-ə)r-ē, ˈin-ˌ;ˈin-kwə-rē, ˈiŋ-;ˈin-ˌkwir-ē \
plural inquiries

Definition of inquiry 

1 : a request for information

2 : a systematic investigation often of a matter of public interest

3 : examination into facts or principles : research

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of inquiry in a Sentence

Discovered when Galileo Galilei turned the first astronomical telescope to the heavens in 1610, the Jovian system has been a focus of scientific inquiry ever since. — Chad Galts, Brown Alumni Monthly, November 1996 … his head was tilted at the precise angle of inquiry as to where he should put Muhlenberg's drink. — Theodore Sturgeon, E Pluribus Unicorn, (1953) 1965 … distinguish between legitimate legislative inquiry into the acts of a man … and illegitimate inquiry into opinions … — Norman Thomas, New Republic, 28 Feb. 1955 She refused to answer inquiries from the media about her marriage. The board ordered an inquiry to determine whether the rules had been followed. Further inquiry showed that he had visited the city twice before. The police are pursuing a new line of inquiry.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The meeting, a UConn source confirmed, is not related in any way to the NCAA letter of inquiry sent to UConn in January, which relates to the program’s recruiting practices involving several players. Dom Amore,, "UConn Investigated, Notified NCAA Of Assistant Basketball Coach's Meeting With Two Indicted In FBI Investigation," 8 June 2018 The Free Press made the inquiries after the city moved to condemn a house on the same street near the new Little Caesars Arena. Allie Gross, Detroit Free Press, "Ilitch buildings get notices as Freep inquires about lack of blight tickets," 23 May 2018 Prompted by a Sentinel inquiry early this year, Seminole County Commissioner Bob Dallari, then chairman of MetroPlan Orlando, a regional agency of mayors and commissioners, asked for the claims. Kevin Spear,, "I-4 construction nightmares: Drivers seeking payment for car damage face daunting odds," 13 July 2018 Jamie Keeton can be reached for questions or business inquiries at Elena Weissmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Meet Kenosha's Jamie 'Can Head' Keeton, the human suction cup," 12 July 2018 Fortunately, the people behind Ultra-Ever Dry seem to have received some inquiries from individuals who were interested in applying it to equipment that's used in a location where food is handled. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "The Internet-demanded, partially scientific testing of Ultra-Ever Dry (in HD!)," 4 July 2018 Civic learning should be pervasive throughout the college experience, and students should have opportunities to gain civic knowledge and engage in civic inquiry as a part of every field of study and every major. John King, Teen Vogue, "Former Secretary of Education John King on Why Colleges Need to Support Student Activism," 12 June 2018 His nonfeasance included not filing critical pleadings, not attending hearings, not forwarding files to successor counsel, not refunding unearned fees and not responding to client inquiries. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee lawyer disbarred on 38 counts of misconduct," 13 July 2018 The result the Supreme Court reached in Clinton v. Jones — that presidents are not constitutionally entitled to deferral of civil suits — may well have been entirely correct; that is beyond the scope of this inquiry. Salvador Rizzo, Washington Post, "Does Brett Kavanaugh think the president is immune from criminal charges?," 11 July 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for inquiry

see inquire

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about inquiry

Statistics for inquiry

Last Updated

17 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inquiry

The first known use of inquiry was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for inquiry



English Language Learners Definition of inquiry

: a request for information

: an official effort to collect and examine information about something

: the act of asking questions in order to gather or collect information


in·qui·ry | \ˈin-ˌkwī-rē, -kwə-\
plural inquiries

Kids Definition of inquiry

1 : the act of asking a question or seeking information On further inquiry, we learned his name.

2 : a request for information The inquiry is confidential.

3 : a thorough examination an official inquiry


in·qui·ry | \ˈin-ˌkwīr-ē, in-ˈkwīr-ē; ˈin-kwə-rē, ˈiŋ- \
plural inquiries

Legal Definition of inquiry 

1 : a request for information such doubt as would cause a reasonable person to make an inquiry

2 : a systematic official investigation often of a matter of public interest especially by a body (as a legislative committee) with power to compel testimony

on inquiry

: having notice that inquiry should be made

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on inquiry

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


a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
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!