investigate

verb

in·​ves·​ti·​gate in-ˈve-stə-ˌgāt How to pronounce investigate (audio)
investigated; investigating

transitive verb

: to observe or study by close examination and systematic inquiry

intransitive verb

: to make a systematic examination
especially : to conduct an official inquiry
investigation noun
investigative adjective
investigatory adjective

Examples of investigate in a Sentence

The police are still investigating the murder. The accident was thoroughly investigated. The manager promised to investigate when we pointed out an error on our bill. He was investigated for his involvement in the incident.
Recent Examples on the Web Hinkle had been investigating the case and documenting his findings on the channel. Andrea Klick, Kansas City Star, 10 Feb. 2024 Police said that there have not been any arrests and authorities are continuing to investigate the incident. Sarah Rumpf-Whitten, Fox News, 9 Feb. 2024 Roseville police detectives, in collaboration with the Placer County Children’s System of Care, have been investigating the boy’s death since last week. Rosalio Ahumada, Sacramento Bee, 9 Feb. 2024 Most American carriers have ruled out such measures in recent years, while in the United Kingdom, an aviation start-up has been investigating more precise weight data methods at airports in a bid to save fuel costs and curb flight emissions. Adela Suliman, Washington Post, 9 Feb. 2024 Health officials investigated illnesses in 2017 and 2021, but were only able to confirm the source based on new laboratory and inspection information when more people fell ill in December, officials said. Jonel Aleccia, Twin Cities, 9 Feb. 2024 In August, Trump was indicted on four criminal counts by a federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and other efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Kyler Alvord, Peoplemag, 8 Feb. 2024 Beyond investigating their size, scientists are also digging into the chemistry of airborne particles, which, unlike other regulated pollutants such as lead and ozone, encompass a wide array of solid and liquid particles from soot to nitrate. Virginia Gewin, Scientific American, 8 Feb. 2024 Detectives are investigating a shooting that critically wounded two men Monday morning in Fort Lauderdale, police said. Omar Rodríguez Ortiz, Miami Herald, 29 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'investigate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Latin investigatus, past participle of investigare to track, investigate, from in- + vestigium footprint, track

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near investigate

Cite this Entry

“Investigate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/investigate. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

investigate

verb
in·​ves·​ti·​gate in-ˈves-tə-ˌgāt How to pronounce investigate (audio)
investigated; investigating
: to study by close examination and systematic inquiry
investigation noun
investigative adjective
investigator noun
investigatory adjective
Etymology

from Latin investigare "to track, investigate," from in- "in, toward" and vestigium "footprint" — related to vestige

Word Origin
A detective investigating a crime may find the criminal by following clues. In much the same way, a hunter may find game by following tracks. The origins of the word investigate show how fitting it is to compare the detective to the hunter. The Latin word vestigium meant "footprint, track." Joined with the prefix in-, the noun vestigium gave rise to the verb investigare. This word meant both "to track or trace by footprints" and "to study or examine closely." Only the second meaning was kept when the verb was borrowed into English as investigate.

Legal Definition

investigate

verb
in·​ves·​ti·​gate in-ˈves-tə-ˌgāt How to pronounce investigate (audio)
investigated; investigating

transitive verb

: to observe or study by close examination and systematic inquiry
specifically : to make (a criminal suspect) the subject of inquiry and study for the purpose of establishing probable cause

intransitive verb

: to make a systematic examination
especially : to conduct an official inquiry
investigation noun
investigative adjective
investigator noun
investigatory adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on investigate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!