search

1 of 2

verb

searched; searching; searches

transitive verb

1
: to look into or over carefully or thoroughly in an effort to find or discover something: such as
a
: to examine in seeking something
searched the north field
b
: to look through or explore by inspecting possible places of concealment or investigating suspicious circumstances
c
: to read thoroughly : check
especially : to examine a public record or register for information about
search land titles
d
: to examine for articles concealed on the person
e
: to look at as if to discover or penetrate intention or nature
2
: to uncover, find, or come to know by inquiry or scrutiny
usually used with out

intransitive verb

1
: to look or inquire carefully
searched for the papers
2
: to make painstaking investigation or examination
searchability noun
searchable adjective
searcher noun
searchingly adverb

search

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: an act of searching
a search for food
go in search of help
b
: an act of boarding and inspecting a ship on the high seas in exercise of right of search
2
obsolete : a party that searches
3
: power or range of penetrating
also : a penetrating effect

Example Sentences

Verb They haven't found him yet, so they have to keep searching. The police searched her for concealed weapons. He was searched by the guard before he was allowed to enter the courtroom. The software allows you to search thousands of sites at the same time. She searched for information on the Web. He searched her face, hoping to see some glimmer of emotion. Noun We will begin a search for a new manager this week. I performed a search for the file. I did a Web search for restaurants in that area. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
The new disclosure came as investigators continued to search for answers in the shooting and Jones’s criminal record came into sharper focus. Anchorage Daily News, 16 Nov. 2022 The new disclosure came as investigators continued to search for answers in the shooting and Jones’s criminal record came into sharper focus. Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2022 Police continued to search the backyard of Wondra's home on Tuesday, where crews intend to dig three or four feet deep, Huff told KTVB. Mirna Alsharif, NBC News, 15 Nov. 2022 Throughout the six-minute video, King continued to search for signs of anyone still at work. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, 11 Nov. 2022 Since the attack, game wardens and biologists have continued to search the neighborhood for the bear and its cubs but have not yet found anything as of Friday, a spokesperson for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department confirmed. Meredith Deliso, ABC News, 4 Nov. 2022 Investigators have continued to search the home from which the woman escaped, and Excelsior Springs Police Chief Greg Dull asked the public Saturday to be patient while officers sort through evidence. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 11 Oct. 2022 Deputies in South Carolina have continued to search for an inmate who escaped from a detention center on Friday night, authorities said Sunday. Stephen Sorace, Fox News, 3 Oct. 2022 Air and sea crews continued to search for 16 people still believed to be missing. Stephen Smith, CBS News, 30 Sep. 2022
Noun
Yet on frozen or icy patches of sea, Coast Guard icebreakers are the only way to approach foreign vessels, conduct search-and-rescue operations or launch pollution-control efforts. William Mauldin, WSJ, 19 Nov. 2022 Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our game center at latimes.com/games. Laura Blasey, Los Angeles Times, 19 Nov. 2022 At least 100 fire and rescue personnel responded to the scene after reports of an explosion and fire around 8:40 a.m. Wednesday, kicking off a massive multi-day search-and-rescue operation, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service officials said. Sheryl Lawrence, CNN, 17 Nov. 2022 Nearly 400 dogs were nominated this year for one of the awards' seven categories —which celebrate military, therapy, service, law enforcement, shelter, search and rescue, and guide dogs. Tracey Harrington Mccoy, Peoplemag, 17 Nov. 2022 Local search and rescue crews have advised Yukon-Kuskokwim area residents to avoid the thin ice on lakes and rivers for the time being, McDaniel said. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Nov. 2022 Every year in the United States, there are thousands of search and rescue operations. Chris Velazco, Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2022 Search efforts for Michael have involved local police agencies, professional search-and-rescue units and community volunteers, as well as helicopters, drones, boats, divers and dogs. Mirna Alsharif, NBC News, 15 Nov. 2022 At the time, this was the largest search and salvage effort conducted by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English cerchen, from Anglo-French cercher, sercher to travel about, investigate, search, from Late Latin circare to go about, from Latin circum round about — more at circum-

First Known Use

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of search was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near search

Cite this Entry

“Search.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/search. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

search 1 of 2

verb

1
a
: to go through or look carefully and thoroughly in an effort to find or discover something
search a room
search for a lost child
b
: to look in the pockets or the clothing of for something hidden
search an arrested person
2
: to find or come to know by or as if by careful investigation or examination
usually used with out
3
: to use a computer to find information in (as a database, network, or website)
searcher noun
searchingly adverb

search

2 of 2

noun

: an act of searching : an attempt to get, find, or seek out

Legal Definition

search 1 of 2

noun

1
: an exploratory investigation (as of an area or person) by a government agent that intrudes on an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy and is conducted usually for the purpose of finding evidence of unlawful activity or guilt or to locate a person
warrantless searches are invalid unless they fall within narrowly drawn exceptions State v. Mahone, 701 P.2d 171 (1985)
see also exigent circumstances, plain view sense 2, probable cause at cause sense 2, reasonable suspicion, search warrant at warrant compare seizure

Note: The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and requires that a warrant may issue only upon probable cause and that the warrant must particularly describe the place to be searched. Some searches, such as a search incident to an arrest, have been held to be valid without a warrant.

administrative search
: an inspection or search carried out under a regulatory or statutory scheme especially in public or commercial premises and usually to enforce compliance with regulations or laws pertaining to health, safety, or security one of the fundamental principles of administrative searches is that the government may not use an administrative inspection scheme as a pretext to search for evidence of criminal violations People v. Madison, 520 N.E.2d 374 (1988)

called also administrative inspection, inspection, regulatory search

see also probable cause at cause sense 2

Note: The U.S. Supreme Court held in Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523 (1967), that a reasonable administrative search may be conducted upon a showing of probable cause which is less stringent than that required for a search incident to a criminal investigation. The Court stated that the reasonableness of the search can only be determined by “balancing the need to search against the invasion which the search entails.” Cases following Camara have stated that the probable cause requirement is fulfilled by showing that the search meets reasonable administrative standards established in a nonarbitrary regulatory scheme.

border search
: a search made of a person upon crossing into the U.S. at a border or its equivalent (as the airport at which the person arrives in the U.S.)

Note: Probable cause is not required for a border search.

consent search
: a warrantless search conducted upon the voluntarily given consent of a person having authority over the place or things to be searched
inventory search
: a warrantless search (as of an impounded automobile) conducted for the purpose of placing personal property in safekeeping to prevent loss of the property and claims against police for such loss
protective search
: a search (as a frisk) conducted by a law enforcement officer for the purpose of ensuring against threats to safety (as from a concealed weapon) or sometimes to prevent the destruction of evidence
regulatory search
: administrative search in this entry
shakedown search \ ˈshāk-​ˌdau̇n-​ \
: a search for illicit or contraband material (as weapons or drugs) in prisoners' cells that is usually random and warrantless

Note: In Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517 (1984), the U.S. Supreme Court held that Fourth Amendment protections do not extend to searches of prisoners' cells.

strip search
: a search for something concealed on a person conducted after removal of the person's clothing
2
: an act of boarding and inspecting a ship on the high seas in exercise of the right to do so under international law (as in time of war)
3
: an examination of a public record or registry see also title search

search

2 of 2

transitive verb

: to conduct a search of
search the premises
search a person
search a title

intransitive verb

: to conduct a search
search for drugs in a school locker
searcher noun

More from Merriam-Webster on search

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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