[ in-ves-ti-gey-shuhn ]
/ ɪnˌvɛs tɪˈgeɪ ʃən /
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See synonyms for: investigation / investigations on Thesaurus.com

the act or process of investigating or the condition of being investigated.
a searching inquiry for ascertaining facts; detailed or careful examination.
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Origin of investigation

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English investigacio(u)n from Latin investīgātiōn- (stem of investīgātiō ). See investigate, -ion

synonym study for investigation

1, 2. Investigation, examination, inquiry, research express the idea of an active effort to find out something. An investigation is a systematic, minute, and thorough attempt to learn the facts about something complex or hidden; it is often formal and official: an investigation of a bank failure. An examination is an orderly attempt to obtain information about or to make a test of something, often something presented for observation: a physical examination. An inquiry is an investigation made by asking questions rather than by inspection, or by study of available evidence: an inquiry into a proposed bond issue. Research is careful and sustained investigation.

OTHER WORDS FROM investigation

in·ves·ti·ga·tion·al, adjectivepre·in·ves·ti·ga·tion, nounre·in·ves·ti·ga·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does investigation mean?

An investigation is a thorough search for facts, especially those that are hidden or need to be sorted out in a complex situation. The goal of an investigation is usually to determine how or why something happened.

Investigations are usually formal and official. The word is commonly associated with police investigations of criminal activity, but it is used in many other contexts to refer to the process of investigating—systematically finding and examining evidence.

Example: After a six-month investigation, this news organization uncovered widespread corruption.

Where does investigation come from?

The first records of the word investigation come from the 1400s. Investigation is the noun form of the verb investigate, which derives from the Latin verb investīgāre, meaning “to follow a trail” or “to search out.” If the word investigation makes you picture Sherlock Holmes following footprints with a magnifying glass, you’re on the right trail—the vestig part of the word can be traced back to the Latin word vestīgium, meaning “footprint.” (This is also the basis of the English word vestige, meaning “a trace or visible evidence of something.”)

The first step in any investigation is usually to gather all of the evidence or information. Investigators then analyze it and begin to develop conclusions. Criminal investigations are intended to determine who committed a crime (and how and why). In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is responsible for conducting investigations of federal crimes. But there are many other types of investigations. Investigative journalists perform investigations to uncover crimes and other wrongdoing. A business or other organization might order an internal investigation (meaning one performed inside the organization) to determine if there is misconduct or how misconduct was allowed to happen.

Research (such as scientific research) often involves investigation, but the word investigation usually implies a more narrow focus.

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What are some other forms related to investigation?

  • investigate (verb)
  • investigator (noun)
  • investigative (adjective)
  • investigational (adjective)
  • preinvestigation (noun)
  • reinvestigation (noun)

What are some synonyms for investigation?

What are some words that share a root or word element with investigation

What are some words that often get used in discussing investigation?

How is investigation used in real life?

Investigation almost always refers to an official process of finding or revealing facts. It is most commonly associated with criminal investigations, but it can be used in many different contexts.



Try using investigation!

Which of the following people would be likely to conduct an investigation?

A. detective
B. investigative journalist
C. FBI agent
D. all of the above

How to use investigation in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for investigation

/ (ɪnˌvɛstɪˈɡeɪʃən) /

the act or process of investigating; a careful search or examination in order to discover facts, etc

Derived forms of investigation

investigational, adjective
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