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verb (used without object), delved, delv·ing.
  1. to carry on intensive and thorough research for data, information, or the like; investigate: to delve into the issue of prison reform.
  2. Archaic. to dig, as with a spade.
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verb (used with object), delved, delv·ing.
  1. Archaic. to dig; excavate.
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Origin of delve

before 900; Middle English delven, Old English delfan; cognate with Dutch delven, Old High German telban
Related formsdelv·er, nounun·delved, adjective

Synonyms for delve

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for delving

inquire, burrow, prospect, rummage, search, shovel, unearth, explore, dig, investigate, research, probe, examine, dredge, ransack, sift, seek, excavate, spade, trowel

Examples from the Web for delving

Contemporary Examples of delving

Historical Examples of delving

  • "Don't let her kid you, Barry," advised Cousin Jim, delving into his lobster.

    The Innocent Adventuress

    Mary Hastings Bradley

  • Spent all day plowing the low meadow, Peter delving potatoes.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • There, too, in the dim background, a weird shape is ever delving.

    The Biglow Papers

    James Russell Lowell

  • We were not delving deeply, not by any means—just picking off the nuggets, as it were.

    Dwellers in Arcady

    Albert Bigelow Paine

  • I was cast forth from my order because of my delving in black magic.

    The Hour of the Dragon

    Robert E. Howard

British Dictionary definitions for delving


verb (mainly intr; often foll by in or into)
  1. to inquire or research deeply or intensively (for information, etc)he delved in the Bible for quotations
  2. to search or rummage (in a drawer, the pockets, etc)
  3. (esp of an animal) to dig or burrow deeply (into the ground, etc)
  4. (also tr) archaic, or dialect to dig or turn up (earth, a garden, etc), as with a spade
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Derived Formsdelver, noun

Word Origin for delve

Old English delfan; related to Old High German telban to dig, Russian dolbit to hollow out with a chisel
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

Word Origin and History for delving



Old English delfan "to dig" (class III strong verb; past tense dealf, past participle dolfen), common West Germanic verb (cf. Old Saxon delban, Dutch delven, Middle High German telben "to dig"), from PIE root *dhelbh- (cf. Lithuanian delba "crowbar," Russian dolbit', Czech dlabati, Polish dłubać "to chisel;" Russian dolotó, Czech dlato, Polish dłuto "chisel"). Weak inflections emerged 14c.-16c. Related: Delved; delving.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper