in·​quis·​i·​tive in-ˈkwi-zə-tiv How to pronounce inquisitive (audio)
: given to examination or investigation
: inclined to ask questions
especially : inordinately or improperly curious about the affairs of others
inquisitively adverb
inquisitiveness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for inquisitive

curious, inquisitive, prying mean interested in what is not one's personal or proper concern.

curious, a neutral term, basically connotes an active desire to learn or to know.

children are curious about everything

inquisitive suggests impertinent and habitual curiosity and persistent quizzing.

dreaded the visits of their inquisitive relatives

prying implies busy meddling and officiousness.

prying neighbors who refuse to mind their own business

Examples of inquisitive in a Sentence

… but now, with the wanderings of the fleets and their inquisitive occupants producing words from all over, the English vocabulary was enhanced not merely by the usual suspects but by words from India and Turkey, Arabia and Malaya, Japan and the native peoples of North America … Simon Winchester, The Meaning of Everything, 2003
It's partly because humans are naturally inquisitive and exploratory but also, and more significant, because we need the unknown, what historians of religion call "otherness," to lend our lives significance. David Nicholson-Lord, Nation, 6 Oct. 1997
Inquisitive eyes reveal the dingo's true nature—it's a hunter, from its cocked ears and powerful jaws to the white tip of its tail. Mitch Reardon, Australian Geographic, July–September 1992
an inquisitive woman who tends to everybody's business but her own
Recent Examples on the Web Prince William is used to fielding tough questions — even from an inquisitive 11-year-old boy! Stephanie Petit, Peoplemag, 17 Nov. 2023 There are also regularly changing specials for those with a particularly inquisitive palette. Sophie Prideaux, Condé Nast Traveler, 8 Nov. 2023 During a walkabout after viewing the waterfall, Prince William posed for selfies, received gifts from the crowd of well-wishers and let an inquisitive 8-month-old baby suck on his finger. Simon Perry, Peoplemag, 6 Nov. 2023 Some come from as far away as Europe and Asia; others are inquisitive neighbors from just up the street. Laura Kiniry, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Nov. 2023 His iteration of The New Republic did not fare well, in the rearview mirror, under the inquisitive searchlights of #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. Dwight Garner, New York Times, 2 Oct. 2023 His vivid, inquisitive storytelling sharply contrasts with the rank advocacy that contaminates today’s Fake News. Armond White, National Review, 22 Sep. 2023 At the same time, the designers have to come up with inventive ways to impress affluent travelers, who are discerning, inquisitive, and adventurous by nature. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 7 Aug. 2023 La Belle shipwreck moves to its final resting place at Bullock Museum This summer, the shallow parts of the Neches encouraged inquisitive types to explore areas ordinarily submerged. Michael Barnes, USA TODAY, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'inquisitive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see inquisition

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of inquisitive was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near inquisitive

Cite this Entry

“Inquisitive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​quis·​i·​tive in-ˈkwiz-ət-iv How to pronounce inquisitive (audio)
: tending to inquire or investigate
: asking many questions
especially : too curious about other people's affairs
inquisitively adverb
inquisitiveness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on inquisitive

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