in·​ter·​ro·​gate | \in-ˈter-ə-ˌgāt, -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 \ noun
interrogation \ in-​ˌter-​ə-​ˈgā-​shən \ noun
interrogational \ in-​ˌter-​ə-​ˈgā-​shnəl , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for interrogate


ask, grill, inquire (of), query, question, quiz


answer, reply, respond

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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

Aung Naing Soe says that while the other journalists were only questioned for a few days, he was interrogated for 11 or 12 days because of the Facebook posts. Timothy Mclaughlin, WIRED, "How Facebook’s Rise Fueled Chaos and Confusion in Myanmar," 6 July 2018 Miranda rights inform suspects of their right to silence before they are interrogated to preserve the admissibility of their statements against them in criminal proceedings. Jennie Key,, "Cop didn't read murder suspect his rights after fatal crash that claimed NKY family," 18 June 2018 Wiedenhoeft said he was interrogated eight hours a day, five days a week, during his entire imprisonment. Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Imprisoned for months as an accused spy, then released — it happened in 1968, too," 5 June 2018 On the first leg of the journey, young Harry watched in terror as a German soldier interrogated his father at gunpoint, according to Gluckman’s son, Larry, who heard the story many times. Steve Rubenstein, San Francisco Chronicle, "Longtime Bay Area resident, who escaped Nazi Germany as a boy, dies at 88," 18 May 2018 The criticism came on two fronts: Haspel ran a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002 where detainees were brutally interrogated with tactics that critics say is torture. Daniella Diaz, CNN, "Controversial nominee Gina Haspel confirmed as first female CIA director," 17 May 2018 The criticism came on two fronts: Haspel ran a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002 where detainees were brutally interrogated with tactics that critics say is torture. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Trump’s Thug, the Ruthless Gina Haspel, Confirmed as the 1st Female CIA Director," 17 May 2018 Abu Zubaydah was the first prisoner interrogated at the Thailand black site. Jennifer Williams, Vox, "Gina Haspel, Trump’s controversial pick for CIA director, explained," 9 May 2018 In fact, this chamber is where all of Sonos's products are interrogated. Lauren Goode, WIRED, "Sonos's New Soundbar Points to a Voice-Enabled Future," 6 June 2018

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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Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

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

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More Definitions for interrogate



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 \
interrogated; interrogating

Kids Definition of interrogate

: to question thoroughly Police interrogated a suspect.


transitive verb
in·​ter·​ro·​gate | \in-ˈter-ə-ˌgāt \
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 \ noun
interrogator \ in-​ˈter-​ə-​ˌgā-​tər \ 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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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