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

Definition of interrogate

transitive verb

1 : to question formally and systematically
2 : to give or send out a signal to (a device, such as a transponder) for triggering an appropriate response

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Other Words from interrogate

interrogatee \ in-​ˌter-​ə-​(ˌ)gā-​ˈtē How to pronounce interrogatee (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for interrogate



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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

Examples of interrogate in a Sentence

interrogate a prisoner of war interrogated him about where he'd gone the night before
Recent Examples on the Web Perhaps not, as manhood itself is being interrogated, scrutinized and radically revised. Alex Williams, New York Times, "As Men Are Canceled, So Too Their Magazine Subscriptions," 2 Nov. 2019 Soon his name was on everyone’s lips, as he was interrogated, tortured, tried, convicted and executed before the end of January 1606. Allan Metcalf, Time, "The Surprising Origins of the Phrase 'You Guys'," 30 Sep. 2019 When Cui inserted references in his essays to the Xinjiang region, where China has detained hundreds of thousands of Muslim minority Uighurs in reeducation camps since 2016, he was interrogated by security officers. Los Angeles Times, "At 70, Communist China is older than the Soviet Union, while rivaling U.S. economic power," 29 Sep. 2019 He’s being interrogated by the police, and the writer intends that the question of what, precisely, the boy has done should propel the reader along (a strategy not dissimilar to the one Liane Moriarty deploys in Big Little Lies). Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "The MAGA Plot," 20 Sep. 2019 On a recent, entirely legal, trip, your correspondent and a colleague were interrogated for hours by plainclothes police. The Economist, "China says Hong Kong’s protesters have the mainland in their sights," 12 Sep. 2019 According to Meagan Flynn of the Washington Post, Adie subsequently spent more than a month in prison, where she was interrogated and possibly tortured. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Wanted: The Missing Bones of a Scottish ‘Witch’," 3 Sep. 2019 During the trial, her attorneys will likely talk about how she was interrogated. Keith Bierygolick,, "Skylar Richardson: What you need to know as trial starts for former cheerleader charged in buried baby case," 2 Sep. 2019 Rittgers said this information proved to be false and laid the groundwork for police to interrogate Richardson, who was then 18, for a second time. Keith Bierygolick,, "Skylar Richardson trial: Attorney blasts police who investigated buried baby case. 'No guts'," 3 Sep. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of interrogate

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for interrogate

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

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Time Traveler for interrogate

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for interrogate

Last Updated

23 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Interrogate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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More Definitions for interrogate


How to pronounce interrogate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of interrogate

: to ask (someone) questions in a thorough and often forceful way


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

Kids Definition of interrogate

: to question thoroughly Police interrogated a suspect.


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

Legal Definition of interrogate

: 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.

Other Words from interrogate

interrogation \ in-​ˌter-​ə-​ˈgā-​shən How to pronounce interrogation (audio) \ noun
interrogator \ in-​ˈter-​ə-​ˌgā-​tər How to pronounce interrogator (audio) \ noun

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Comments on interrogate

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


very cautious or careful

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