scru·​ti·​nize | \ˈskrü-tə-ˌnīz \
scrutinized; scrutinizing

Definition of scrutinize 

transitive verb

: to examine closely and minutely

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Other Words from scrutinize

scrutinizer noun

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

Scrutinize This Word's Etymology

A close look at the etymology of scrutinize reveals that the word stems from the Latin verb scrutari (meaning "to search" or "to examine"), which in turn probably comes from scruta (meaning "trash," or more specifically "a mixture of worthwhile articles and trash"). In the 15th century scrutari gave us the noun scrutiny, a word that originally meant "a formal vote" and then "an official examination of votes." Scrutinize retained reference to voting, with the meaning "to examine votes," at least into the 18th century-and even today in Britain a scrutineer is a person who counts votes.

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

Last week, Legend reacted to the fact that Markle’s family has been scrutinized in the media ahead of her wedding to Prince Harry. Rebecca Schiller, Billboard, "John Legend's Advice for Prince Harry & Meghan Markle: 'Listen to Each Other, Love Each Other…Go Make Some Babies'," 22 May 2018 Facebook lawyers spent a year scrutinizing the law’s lengthy text. Nick Kostov, WSJ, "Google and Facebook Likely to Benefit From Europe’s Privacy Crackdown," 23 Apr. 2018 Legal scholars and politicos have also been scrutinizing Kavanaugh’s expansive interpretation of executive powers. Brian Bennett, Time, "How Brett Kavanaugh Could Change the Supreme Court—and America," 12 July 2018 Her name is Nazuna (Suzu Hirose), and the movie continually scrutinizes her body with the sort of prurience that feeds the skeeziest, most stereotypical assumptions about the filmmakers’ chosen medium. Justin Chang,, "Time-travel romance, but no magic, in the Japanese anime 'Fireworks'," 2 July 2018 After her wedding, the Duchess of Cambridge had to adjust quickly to being one of the most high-profile and highly scrutinized people in the world with very little experience with the press. Marcia Moody, Town & Country, "How Meghan Markle's First Year as a Royal Will Compare with Kate Middleton’s," 27 June 2018 Congress, in parallel, is working on reform legislation to the CFIUS, That would scrutinize inbound investment in the U.S. on national security grounds. Saleha Mohsin,, "U.S. Plans Curbs on Chinese Investment, Citing Security Risk," 25 June 2018 White House officials are scrutinizing various ways Republicans have backed Trump both before and after the 2016 election. Sarah Westwood, CNN, "White House applying loyalty test in deciding midterm endorsements," 5 June 2018 Pruitt's press team made headlines by taking a page from Trump's media playbook and deploying personal attacks in response to scrutinizing coverage. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, "The Energy 202: The EPA won't change policy after Pruitt. But it might be more transparent about it.," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scrutinize.' 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 scrutinize

1671, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for scrutinize

The first known use of scrutinize was in 1671

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More Definitions for scrutinize



English Language Learners Definition of scrutinize

: to examine (something) carefully especially in a critical way


scru·​ti·​nize | \ˈskrü-tə-ˌnīz \
scrutinized; scrutinizing

Kids Definition of scrutinize

: to examine very closely … I stood still and scrutinized the place where I'd seen movement.— Avi, Crispin

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