- to go or look through (a place, area, etc.) carefully in order to find something missing or lost: They searched the woods for the missing child. I searched the desk for the letter.
- to look at or examine (a person, object, etc.) carefully in order to find something concealed: He searched the vase for signs of a crack. The police searched the suspect for weapons.
- to explore or examine in order to discover: They searched the hills for gold.
- to look at, read, or examine (a record, writing, collection, repository, etc.) for information: to search a property title; He searched the courthouse for a record of the deed to the land.
- to look at or beneath the superficial aspects of to discover a motive, reaction, feeling, basic truth, etc.: He searched her face for a clue to her true feelings.
- to look into, question, or scrutinize: She searched her conscience.
- (of natural elements) to pierce or penetrate: The sunlight searched the room's dark corners.
- to uncover or find by examination or exploration (often followed by out): to search out all the facts.
- Military. to fire artillery over (an area) with successive changes in gun elevation.
- Computers. to electronically retrieve data, Web pages, database records, or other information from (files, databases, etc.) by typing relevant terms into a search engine or other search tool: Most of us have searched the Internet for medical advice.
- to inquire, investigate, examine, or seek; conduct an examination or investigation.
- the act of searching; careful examination or investigation: Her date with the guy she met online went badly, so her search for “Mr. Right” continues.
- an instance of this: Did the search turn up any clues?
- the practice, on the part of naval officers of a belligerent nation, of boarding and examining a suspected neutral vessel at sea in order to ascertain its true nationality and determine if it is carrying contraband: the right of visit and search.
- Computers. the act or process of electronically retrieving data, Web pages, database records, or other information from files, databases, etc., as in Boolean search; keyword search: A search of the article turned up two references to my company.
- search me, I don't know: Why has it taken so long to reach a decision? Search me.
Origin of search
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for search
In my search for answers about who I was, I pored over religious texts in search of enlightenment.Dear Leelah, We Will Fight On For You: A Letter to a Dead Trans Teen
January 1, 2015
After a hit, they would adjust the search to the most likely route from there.Exclusive: Inside a Cop-Killer’s Final Hours
December 31, 2014
The ATSB has been impressive in the way it has taken over the direction of the search for Flight 370.Who Will Get AsiaAir 8501’s Black Boxes?
December 30, 2014
Search teams find dozens of people and jet debris floating in the Java Sea, as the airline confirms the wreckage is from QZ8501.Wreckage, Bodies of AirAsia Crash Found
December 30, 2014
We separate the search for justice from the search for truth at our peril.Bill de Blasio’s Tea Party Problem
December 30, 2014
Since he went to Salamis in search of you, I have not seen him until late this evening.Philothea
Lydia Maria Child
It was thus Billy Brue found him at the end of his second day's search.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
He began to think busily, and finally resolved to go to the island and search for him.Brave and Bold
I intend going with Windich to-morrow easterly in search of water.
Early this morning Windich and I went in search of more water.
- to look through (a place, records, etc) thoroughly in order to find someone or something
- (tr) to examine (a person) for concealed objects by running one's hands over the clothing
- to look at or examine (something) closelyto search one's conscience
- (tr foll by out) to discover by investigation
- to explore (a bodily cavity) during a surgical procedure
- to probe (a wound)
- (tr) military to fire all over (an area)
- computing to review (a file) to locate specific information
- archaic to penetrate
- search me informal I don't know
- the act or an instance of searching
- the examination of a vessel by the right of search
- a review of a file to locate specific information
- (as modifier)a search routine
- right of search international law the right possessed by the warships of a belligerent state in time of war to board and search merchant vessels to ascertain whether ship or cargo is liable to seizure
Word Origin and History for search
c.1300, from Old French cerchier "to search" (12c., Modern French chercher), from Latin circare "go about, wander, traverse," in Late Latin "to wander hither and thither," from circus "circle" (see circus). Phrase search me as a verbal shrug of ignorance first recorded 1901. Search engine attested from 1988. Search and destroy as a modifier is 1966, American English, from the Vietnam War. Search and rescue is from 1944.
c.1400, "act of searching;" early 15c., "right to investigate illegal activity; examination of records, wills, etc.; a search through an area or a place," from Anglo-French serche, Old French cerche, from cerchier (see search (v.)). Search warrant attested from 1739.