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 The incident that prompted the LAPD to scrutinize the Mission Division was a traffic stop that occurred in December 2022 — in Foothill territory, according to two people not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation. Libor Jany, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2024 The actions are part of a broader effort by Republican lawmakers to scrutinize Biden administration officials after failing to impeach Mr. Biden on behalf of Mr. Trump, who has been impeached twice and indicted four times. Luke Broadwater, New York Times, 16 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for scrutinize 

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 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on scrutinize

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