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 No one is in custody for the attack, and detectives are investigating. Nell Salzman, Chicago Tribune, 10 June 2024 And her case, although investigated, had gone cold—as is the stay of play for so many other trans people. Daniel Scheffler, SPIN, 10 June 2024 The crash of Major Anders’s Beechcraft T-34 Mentor, which happened at about 11:40 a.m., is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. Richard Goldstein, New York Times, 8 June 2024 In the past eight months since new drilling permits were approved, Newsom pushed for an industry watchdog to investigate possible price gouging at the pump, advocated for a law to plug idle wells seeping methane gas and is now rallying to keep the state’s oil well setback law in place. Ari Plachta, Sacramento Bee, 7 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for investigate 

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 20 Jun. 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

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