in·​qui·​si·​tion | \ ˌin-kwə-ˈzi-shən, ˌiŋ-\

Definition of inquisition

1a capitalized : a former Roman Catholic tribunal for the discovery and punishment of heresy
b : an investigation conducted with little regard for individual rights
c : a severe questioning
2 : a judicial or official inquiry or examination usually before a jury also : the finding of the jury
3 : the act of inquiring : examination

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Other Words from inquisition

inquisitional \ ˌin-​kwə-​ˈzi-​sh(ə-​)nᵊl , ˌiŋ-​ \ adjective

Did You Know?

While an inquiry can be almost any search for truth, the related word inquisition suggests a long, thorough investigation that involves extensive and harsh questioning. Though the two words originally had about the same meaning, today inquisition tends to remind us of the Spanish Inquisition, an ongoing trial conducted by church-appointed inquisitors that began in the Middle Ages and sought out nonbelievers, Jews, and Muslims, thousands of whom were sentenced to torture and to burning at the stake.

Examples of inquisition in a Sentence

His political enemies were conducting an inquisition into the details of his personal life. there's no need to conduct an inquisition about so trivial a matter

Recent Examples on the Web

At the same time, the witch hunters, the clerical and secular authorities presiding over inquisitions and tribunals tasked with identifying and eliminating witchcraft practitioners, were overwhelmingly male. Erin Cassese, Vox, "A political history of the term “witch hunt”," 31 Oct. 2018 Throughout the inquisition, Facebook’s stock ticked upwards. Nash Jenkins, Time, "Mark Zuckerberg Leaves Washington With Bumps and Bruises, but Nothing Worse," 11 Apr. 2018 Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg faced a congressional inquisition over revelations the data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica accessed the personal information of 87 million users to try and influence elections. Time, "Twitter Has a Big Problem in Southeast Asia: Bots Before the Ballot in Malaysia and Beyond," 4 May 2018 On Thursday, one of his deputies faced a decidedly sharper inquisition from a panel in Britain. Adam Satariano, New York Times, "Facebook Faces Tough Questions in Britain That It Avoided in the U.S.," 26 Apr. 2018 Once June arrives at the hospital, she’s given the inquisition by a woman who refuses to call June by her real last name, in favor of her married name. Claire Dodson, Teen Vogue, "The First Episodes of "The Handmaid's Tale” Season Two Just Dropped and Things Still Look Bleak," 25 Apr. 2018 On a more somber note, perhaps, Morgan’s son and other bank executives later claimed that Untermyer’s inquisition led to his father’s death just a few months later in March 1913. Daniel Fernandez, Smithsonian, "Before Zuckerberg, These Six Corporate Titans Testified Before Congress," 10 Apr. 2018 Dinner with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell felt more like an inquisition for Anna Faris after the longtime couple heard the actress was starring in a remake of their 1987 film Overboard. Stephanie Petit,, "Anna Faris Recalls 'Terrifying' Dinner with Goldie Hawn to Discuss Overboard Remake," 9 Apr. 2018 This policy change would, in the counter-jihadist imagination, set the stage for a massive federal inquisition into America’s major Muslim organizations based on counter-jihadists’ own conspiracy theories. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "How John Bolton and Mike Pompeo mainstreamed Islamophobia," 27 Mar. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for inquisition

Middle English inquisicioun, from Anglo-French inquisition, from Latin inquisition-, inquisitio, from inquirere

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The first known use of inquisition was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of inquisition

the Inquisition : an organization in the Roman Catholic Church in the past that was responsible for finding and punishing people who did not accept its beliefs and practices

: a harsh and unfair investigation or series of questions


in·​qui·​si·​tion | \ ˌin-kwə-ˈzi-shən, ˌiŋ- \

Legal Definition of inquisition

1 : the act of inquiring or examining
2 : a judicial or official inquiry or examination usually before a jury also : the finding that results from such an inquiry

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