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

Must every patient be interrogated for a recent history of foreign travel? Maryn Mckenna, WIRED, "The Strange and Curious Case of the Deadly Superbug Yeast," 13 July 2018 Some have been interrogated by U.S. personnel inside the facilities, the AP found. Maggie Michael, The Seattle Times, "Yemen demands Emirates shut down prisons where abuses rife," 9 July 2018 The incidents have given rise to the hashtags #LivingWhileBlack and #LivingWhileBrown and often end with a black or brown person being interrogated by police or being carted off in handcuffs. Cleve R. Wootson Jr.,, "Woman threatens to call police on 8-year-old selling water for trip to Disneyland," 24 June 2018 This simple plot device allows a fuzzy window onto the tortured soul of Calvin and interrogates the reader as well. Mark Peters, Chicago Reader, "Nick Drnaso’s second graphic novel, Sabrina, examines the perils of living too long in your own head," 22 May 2018 The dust jacket of Pulitzer Prize-winning Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt's new book Tyrant pulses vivid red, and the book asks sharp questions about the ways William Shakespeare interrogates the idea of political authority in his plays. Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Tyrant' examines the evidence of popular attraction to demagogues as seen in Shakepeare's plays," 15 May 2018 In another case of doing anything simple while being Black, a Black Yale University student was interrogated by campus police officers after a white student reported her on Monday for napping in her dorm's common room. Paula Rogo,, "Napping While Black? White Yale Student Called Cops On Black Student Sleeping In Common Room," 10 May 2018 Shimron was detained for questioning last year, as were a range of senior military officers and other Netanyahu advisers, while Molcho has been interrogated. Matthew Campbell,, "Benjamin Netanyahu Could Be Heading for a Fifth Term. Or to Court," 14 June 2018 But Haspel's nomination was contentious because of her role in a former CIA program to brutally detain and interrogate terror suspects at covert sites abroad following 9/11. Lisa Mascaro, Fox News, "Senate votes to confirm Haspel as 1st female CIA director," 17 May 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

12 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for interrogate

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).


to reject or criticize sharply

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