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

Example Sentences

… 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 Deaf, tinkering Bernie, precocious Marlow, fleet-of-foot Squirrel and the kindly, inquisitive and surprisingly named A1656 are the daughters of mama Raleigh (Laurie Metcalf), all living together in a house in the woods. A.d. Amorosi, Variety, 1 June 2023 This charming attorney grew up on an apple farm, and describes himself as an inquisitive, determined and passionate man who is looking for an outgoing future wife to travel the world and have shared experiences together. Dana Rose Falcone, Peoplemag, 1 June 2023 Being the inquisitive journalist, the former NFL player touched on one particular thing Susan often did while portraying her character Erica Kane. Adrianna Freedman, Good Housekeeping, 4 May 2023 Advertisement In front of inquisitive onlookers, Yakteen opened the trailer door to gather the horse. Bryce Miller, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 May 2023 During downtime after dinner, an iPad and Apple Watch allowed my mom to watch her favorite shows and keep up with my inquisitive family members at home who wanted to know how the trip was going. Dan Koday, Travel + Leisure, 12 Apr. 2023 McKinsey had a playbook for seemingly any problem a pharmaceutical company might face, from production snags to generic competition to inquisitive regulators. New York Times, 29 June 2022 What’s behind each of them (examples: a torture chamber, a treasure hoard, a garden, a lake of tears) is described in the libretto as Judith, Bluebeard’s inquisitive new wife, urges and then demands that the doors be opened. Globe Staff,, 20 Mar. 2023 Although the song wasn’t necessarily as much of a fixture in pop culture as its competitors (Adele, Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, Steve Lacy, Taylor Swift, DJ Khaled and Gayle), inquisitive listeners were eager to listen to the winning tune. Thania Garcia, Variety, 8 Feb. 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 5 Jun. 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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