in·​ter·​ro·​gate in-ˈter-ə-ˌgāt How to pronounce interrogate (audio)
interrogated; interrogating

transitive verb

: to question formally and systematically
: to give or send out a signal to (a device, such as a transponder) for triggering an appropriate response
interrogatee noun
Choose the Right Synonym for interrogate

ask, question, interrogate, query, inquire mean to address a person in order to gain information.

ask implies no more than the putting of a question.

ask for directions

question usually suggests the asking of series of questions.

questioned them about every detail of the trip

interrogate suggests formal or official systematic questioning.

the prosecutor interrogated the witness all day

query implies a desire for authoritative information or confirmation.

queried a librarian about the book

inquire implies a searching for facts or for truth often specifically by asking questions.

began to inquire of friends and teachers what career she should pursue

Example Sentences

interrogate a prisoner of war interrogated him about where he'd gone the night before
Recent Examples on the Web In the second episode, Diana (played by Elizabeth Debicki) secretly participates in Andrew Morton’s explosive biography of her, but rather than interrogate the family’s response to her revelations, the hour ends with the book’s publication. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 11 Nov. 2022 Prosecutors alleged that DePape aimed to hold Speaker Pelosi hostage, interrogate the lawmaker and break her kneecaps. Hannah Wileystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 4 Nov. 2022 The precise mechanism by which psilocybin acts against depression is unclear, but it may be connected to the unique way the hallucinogen allows people to access and interrogate their own emotions, the study’s authors suggested. Leo Sands, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2022 DePape later told investigators about his plan to hold Speaker Pelosi against her will and interrogate her, according to the affidavit. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, 31 Oct. 2022 There’s an awareness of the power dynamics at play but also a willingness to allow the characters the autonomy to interrogate those who have played a hand in shaping them. Sarah-tai Black, Los Angeles Times, 1 Sep. 2022 Khan's anger at Chaudhry was apparently caused by her decision to allow police to interrogate Shahbaz Gill, a close Khan aide and the chief of staff for his political party, Tehreek-e-Insaf. Munir Ahmed, ajc, 25 Aug. 2022 Though not nearly as sharp as the happy dagger in Shakespeare’s tragedy, the film’s brief willingness to interrogate its own crass commercialism is a bold, fascinating move. Courtney Howard, Variety, 1 Sep. 2022 To interrogate who has and who has not been in these decision-making processes. Daniel Kool,, 26 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'interrogate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin interrogatus, past participle of interrogare, from inter- + rogare to ask — more at right

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of interrogate was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near interrogate

Cite this Entry

“Interrogate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



in·​ter·​ro·​gate in-ˈter-ə-ˌgāt How to pronounce interrogate (audio)
interrogated; interrogating
: to question formally and thoroughly
interrogation noun

Legal Definition


transitive verb

in·​ter·​ro·​gate in-ˈter-ə-ˌgāt How to pronounce interrogate (audio)
interrogated; interrogating
: to question formally and systematically
especially : to gather information from (a suspect) by means that are reasonably likely to elicit incriminating responses see also miranda rights

Note: Under Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291 (1980), interrogating includes not just express questioning, but also any words or actions that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response. Asking questions that are normally asked in the course of arrest or booking (such as questions about name or age) is not considered interrogation.

interrogation noun
interrogator noun

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