verb (used without object), in·quired, in·quir·ing.

to seek information by questioning; ask: to inquire about a person.
to make investigation (usually followed by into): to inquire into the incident.

verb (used with object), in·quired, in·quir·ing.

to seek to learn by asking: to inquire a person's name.
Obsolete. to seek.
Obsolete. to question (a person).

Verb Phrases

inquire after, to ask about the state of health or condition of: Friends have been calling all morning to inquire after you.

Also enquire.

Origin of inquire

1250–1300; Middle English < Latin inquīrere to seek for (see in-2, query); replacing Middle English enqueren < Old French enquerre < Latin, as above
Related formsin·quir·a·ble, adjectivein·quir·er, nounre·in·quire, verb, re·in·quired, re·in·quir·ing.un·in·quired, adjective
Can be confusedinquirer inquisitor

Synonyms for inquire

1–3. investigate, examine, query. Inquire, ask, question imply that a person addresses another to obtain information. Ask is the general word: to ask what time it is. Inquire is more formal and implies asking about something specific: to inquire about a rumor. To question implies repetition and persistence in asking; it often applies to legal examination or investigation: to question the survivor of an accident. Sometimes it implies doubt: to question a figure, an account. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for inquire

Contemporary Examples of inquire

Historical Examples of inquire

  • "I have not yet learned what right you have to inquire," replied the misguided maiden.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Hope asked no questions, and hardly felt the impulse to inquire what had happened.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • "You must inquire of the stewards or of himself," was the constant reply.

  • I have desired him to inquire after Lovelace's life and conversation in town.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • Next day he called at the gate, on horseback, to inquire for mistress.

    To be Read at Dusk

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for inquire




  1. to seek information; askshe inquired his age; she inquired about rates of pay
  2. (foll by of)to ask (a person) for informationI'll inquire of my aunt when she is coming
(intr often foll by into) to make a search or investigation
Derived Formsinquirer or enquirer, noun

Word Origin for inquire

C13: from Latin inquīrere from in- ² + quaerere to seek
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 inquire

late 13c., from Old French enquerre "ask, inquire about" (Modern French enquérir), from Vulgar Latin *inquaerere, from Latin in- "into" (see in- (2)) + quaerere "ask, seek" (see query (v.)). Respelled 14c. on Latin model, but half-Latinized enquire still persists. Related: Inquired; inquiring; inquiringly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper