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 interrogate (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 These stories circulate among highly sophisticated critics of media and texts who do, in reality, check facts, think critically, weigh evidence, and interrogate rhetoric. Siva Vaidhyanathan, The New Republic, "Making Sense of the Facebook Menace," 5 Jan. 2021 Throughout, poets interrogate the use of their work and the limits of the imagination when reality presses in. Clare Bucknell, The New Yorker, "What Do We Want from Poetry in Times of Crisis?," 22 Dec. 2020 We are allowed to interrogate park benches and poker statistics, census machines and cosmic rays. Wired Staff, Wired, "26 of the Most Fascinating Books WIRED Read in 2020," 14 Dec. 2020 In a series of essays that interrogate the notion of mainstream feminism,’ Kendall explores the stubborn issues that plague women of color. Washington Post, "50 notable works of nonfiction in 2020," 19 Nov. 2020 Buteau, even when at her silliest, takes time in her special to interrogate aspects of her life. Omar Sanchez,, "Michelle Buteau is 'just exhausted' but as funny as ever in her new special Welcome to Buteaupia," 28 Sep. 2020 What took Harshaw so long to interrogate is that history—the kind taught in schools, the kind displayed in many museums—has never fully reflected the story of Black America. Angela Watercutter, Wired, "The Quest to Unearth One of America’s Oldest Black Churches," 26 Nov. 2020 Together, the brothers track down the vamps, kill one, and interrogate another for the location of the nest. Samantha Highfill,, "Supernatural recap: Sam and Dean's story comes to a peaceful end," 20 Nov. 2020 Gyasi’s ability to interrogate medical and religious issues in the context of America’s fraught racial environment makes her one of the most enlightening novelists writing today. Washington Post, "The 10 best books of 2020," 19 Nov. 2020

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 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Interrogate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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 interrogate (audio) \ noun
interrogator \ in-​ˈter-​ə-​ˌgā-​tər How to pronounce interrogate (audio) \ noun

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