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[as-er-teyn] /ˌæs ərˈteɪn/
verb (used with object)
to find out definitely; learn with certainty or assurance; determine:
to ascertain the facts.
Archaic. to make certain, clear, or definitely known.
Origin of ascertain
1400-50; late Middle English, variant of assertain, acertain < Middle French acertain- (tonic stem of acertener to make certain), equivalent to a- a-5 + certain certain
Related forms
ascertainable, adjective
ascertainably, adverb
ascertainer, noun
ascertainment, noun
nonascertainable, adjective
nonascertainableness, noun
nonascertainably, adverb
nonascertainment, noun
preascertain, verb (used with object)
preascertainment, noun
unascertainable, adjective
unascertainably, adverb
unascertained, adjective
well-ascertained, adjective
Synonym Study
1. See learn. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for unascertained
Historical Examples
  • It is regarded as a binary of long and as yet unascertained period.

    Pleasures of the telescope Garrett Serviss
  • To which of these classes the Loucheux belongs, has hitherto been unascertained.

    Opuscula Robert Gordon Latham
  • This was a process involving an unascertained mathematical principle.

  • There was no regularly organized militia there; only a few independent companies of doubtful, or unascertained, loyalty.

    Campfire and Battlefield Rossiter Johnson
  • This is an ancient pear of unascertained origin, though the pomologists Turpin and Poiteau and others have regarded it as French.

    The Pears of New York U. P. Hedrick
  • How far they affect that of man, except indirectly, is unascertained.

  • Revenge, he had called it, and called it still, for unascertained and undefined injuries.

    Command William McFee
  • The boundaries in the direction of the Tyrol are undescribed, probably because they were unascertained.

    The Ethnology of Europe Robert Gordon Latham
  • Into how many divisions this Floridian population fell, and amongst what known families (if any) it was divided, is unascertained.

  • Each of these divisions (of which the value is unascertained) are members of the Cherokee confederacy.

British Dictionary definitions for unascertained


verb (transitive)
to determine or discover definitely
(archaic) to make certain
Derived Forms
ascertainable, adjective
ascertainably, adverb
ascertainment, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Old French acertener to make certain
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for unascertained



early 15c., "to inform, to give assurance," from Anglo-French acerteiner, Old French acertener "to assure, certify" (13c.), from a "to" (see ad-) + certain "certain" (see certain). Modern meaning of "find out for sure by experiment or investigation" is first attested 1794. Related: Ascertained; ascertaining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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