scru·​ti·​nize ˈskrü-tə-ˌnīz How to pronounce scrutinize (audio)
scrutinized; scrutinizing

transitive verb

: to examine closely and minutely
scrutinizer noun

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Scrutinize This Word's Etymology

Scrutinize the history of scrutinize far back enough and you wind up sifting through trash: the word comes from Latin scrutari, which means "to search, to examine," and scrutari likely comes from scruta, meaning "trash," the etymology evoking one who searches through trash for anything of value. The noun scrutiny preceded scrutinize in English, and in its earliest 15th century use referred to a formal vote, and later to an official examination of votes. Scrutinize was established in the 17th century with its familiar "to examine closely" meaning, but retained reference to voting with the meaning "to examine votes" at least into the 18th century. And while the term scrutineer can be a general term referring to someone who examines something, it is also sometimes used specifically as a term for an election poll watcher.

Choose the Right Synonym for scrutinize

scrutinize, scan, inspect, examine mean to look at or over.

scrutinize stresses close attention to minute detail.

scrutinized the hospital bill

scan implies a surveying from point to point often suggesting a cursory overall observation.

scanned the wine list

inspect implies scrutinizing for errors or defects.

inspected my credentials

examine suggests a scrutiny in order to determine the nature, condition, or quality of a thing.

examined the specimens

Examples of scrutinize in a Sentence

I closely scrutinized my opponent's every move. Her performance was carefully scrutinized by her employer.
Recent Examples on the Web Johnson has a long legislative to-do list when the House returns to Washington after Thanksgiving, and with Republicans holding a razor-thin majority, his moves will be scrutinized by Republicans and Democrats alike. The Editors, The Atlantic, 25 Nov. 2023 Even though Starship is uncrewed for today's test flight, the outcome will be closely scrutinized. NBC News, 18 Nov. 2023 The defense also scrutinized Nancy Pelosi’s schedule in efforts to convince the jury that the former speaker was not always engaged in official business. Hannah Wiley, Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2023 As business leaders commence budgeting and planning for 2024, securing hybrid cloud infrastructure will likely remain a top priority—yet it will also be closely scrutinized for cost efficiencies. Shane Buckley, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 This push for young users was not deterred even after a coalition of state attorneys general launched a probe scrutinizing the impact of the company’s social networks on young people’s mental health. Naomi Nix, Washington Post, 7 Nov. 2023 Whatever the outcome in Virginia — which was among just four states with legislative elections this year — it will be closely scrutinized nationwide for hints of what may come in the 2024 presidential cycle. CBS News, 7 Nov. 2023 Powell will hold a news conference Wednesday that will be scrutinized for any hints about the Fed’s next moves. Christopher Rugaber, Fortune, 26 Oct. 2023 The league has been heavily scrutinized as an increasing number of players are diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from major hits, which leads to debilitating symptoms including mental health changes and death. Mary Whitfill Roeloffs, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1671, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of scrutinize was in 1671


Dictionary Entries Near scrutinize

Cite this Entry

“Scrutinize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


scru·​ti·​nize ˈskrüt-ᵊn-ˌīz How to pronounce scrutinize (audio)
scrutinized; scrutinizing
: to examine very closely : inspect

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