probe

1 of 2

noun

plural probes
1
: a slender medical instrument used especially for exploration (as of a wound or body cavity)
2
a
: any of various testing devices or substances: such as
(1)
: a pointed metal tip for making electrical contact with a circuit element being checked
(2)
: a usually small object that is inserted into something so as to test conditions at a given point
(3)
: a device used to penetrate or send back information especially from outer space or a celestial body
(4)
: a device (such as an ultrasound generator) or a substance (such as radioactively labeled DNA) used to obtain specific information for diagnostic or experimental purposes
b
: a pipe on the receiving airplane thrust into the drogue of the delivering airplane in air refueling
3
a
: the action of probing
b
: a penetrating or critical investigation
c
: a tentative exploratory advance or survey

probe

2 of 2

verb

probed; probing; probes

transitive verb

1
: to search into and explore very thoroughly : subject to a penetrating investigation
2
: to examine with a probe
uncrewed vehicles probed space

intransitive verb

: to make a searching exploratory investigation
prober noun
Choose the Right Synonym for probe

enter, penetrate, pierce, probe mean to make way into something.

enter is the most general of these and may imply either going in or forcing a way in.

entered the city in triumph

penetrate carries a strong implication of an impelling force or compelling power that achieves entrance.

the enemy penetrated the fortress

pierce means an entering or cutting through with a sharp pointed instrument.

pierced the boil with a lancet

probe implies penetration to investigate or explore something hidden from sight or knowledge.

probed the depths of the sea

Example Sentences

Noun The FBI probe did not produce any new evidence. a congressional probe into the accusations Verb His questions made it clear he was probing for information. He didn't like the police probing into his past. He didn't like the police probing him about his past. The doctor probed the wound with his finger. Searchers probed the mud with long poles. She probed the files for evidence that would help the investigation. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, had recused himself from the case, leaving Rosenstein with oversight of the Justice Department's probe. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 20 Nov. 2022 The Maryland probe follows a grand jury investigation of abuse in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania that lasted from 2016-18 and resulted in a sweeping 800-page report documenting widespread abuse. Ruth Graham, BostonGlobe.com, 19 Nov. 2022 The person said that the probe predates the Swift chaos this week and that its parameters were not immediately clear. Julian Mark, Anchorage Daily News, 19 Nov. 2022 Trump’s possession at his property in Mar-a-Lago; and the probe into those who potentially illegally interfered with the transfer of presidential power and/or with the certification of the 2020 election results. Jennifer Rodgers, CNN, 19 Nov. 2022 The Mar-a-Lago probe has escalated especially quickly, with prosecutors this month granting immunity to a close Trump ally to secure his testimony before a federal grand jury. Eric Tucker And Michael Balsamo, Chicago Tribune, 18 Nov. 2022 Now, per an LAPD spokesperson, Internal Affairs will conduct the administrative side of the Palka probe with oversight from LAPD Inspector General Mark Smith, an independent investigator. Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Nov. 2022 The person said the Justice Department’s probe predates the Swift concert drama, and its parameters were not immediately clear. Perry Stein, Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2022 The new antitrust investigation of Ticketmaster is focusing on whether the company has abused its power in the music industry, the Times says, though according to the report, the probe predates the Swift presale situation. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 18 Nov. 2022
Verb
But Pipedream goes further, using the omnipresent code in PLCs to break through layers and probe more deeply into the heart of a facility. Washington Post, 13 Apr. 2022 Most of the marsquakes originate in the crust, and only a fraction of seismic waves probe deeper regions. Lawrence Krauss, WSJ, 28 July 2021 Republicans also are likely to probe EPA actions on climate change, air quality and wetlands, citing a Supreme Court ruling last summer that curbed the EPA’s authority to address climate change, Brazauskas said. Seth Borenstein, BostonGlobe.com, 9 Nov. 2022 Danny Robbins' script wants to both probe the very nature of haunting, and the cultural value of ghosts, while also delivering up some genuine scares in the process. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 7 Nov. 2022 Riedl adds that letting outsiders probe Twitter’s algorithms was an important step toward more transparency and understanding of issues around AI. WIRED, 4 Nov. 2022 State prosecutors in Georgia continue to probe his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, as do the DOJ and the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack, which recently served him a subpoena demanding testimony. Jill Colvin, ajc, 2 Nov. 2022 State prosecutors in Georgia continue to probe his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, as do the DOJ and the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack, which recently served him a subpoena demanding testimony. Jill Colvin, Chicago Tribune, 2 Nov. 2022 State prosecutors in Georgia continue to probe his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, as do the DOJ and the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack, which recently served him a subpoena demanding testimony. Jill Colvin, Fortune, 2 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'probe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Medieval Latin proba examination, from Latin probare

First Known Use

Noun

1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

circa 1542, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of probe was circa 1542

Dictionary Entries Near probe

Cite this Entry

“Probe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/probe. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

probe 1 of 2

noun

1
: a slender medical instrument especially for examining a cavity (as a deep wound)
2
: a device used to penetrate or send back information especially from outer space
3
: a careful investigation
4
: an attempt to explore or learn about some unknown place
a space probe

probe

2 of 2

verb

probed; probing
1
: to examine with or as if with a probe
2
: to investigate thoroughly
prober noun

Medical Definition

probe 1 of 2

noun

1
: a surgical instrument that consists typically of a light slender fairly flexible pointed metal instrument like a small rod that is used typically for locating a foreign body (as a bullet embedded in a part of the body), for exploring a wound or suppurative tract by prodding or piercing, or for penetrating and exploring bodily passages and cavities
2
: a device (as an ultrasound generator) or a substance (as radioactively labeled DNA) used to obtain specific information (as detection of a virus or location of specific segments of a nucleic acid) for diagnostic or experimental purposes
the radioactive probe revealed the distribution of molecules in the membrane

probe

2 of 2

verb

probed; probing

transitive verb

: to examine with or as if with a probe
probe a wound

intransitive verb

: to search by using a probe
probe for a bullet

More from Merriam-Webster on probe

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