[ surch ]
/ sɜrtʃ /
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See synonyms for: search / searched / searches / searching on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
to inquire, investigate, examine, or seek; conduct an examination or investigation.


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Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Idioms about search

    search me, I don't know: Why has it taken so long to reach a decision? Search me.

Origin of search

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English verb serchen, cerchen, from Anglo-French sercher or directly from Old French cerchier, from Late Latin circāre “to go around,” derivative of Latin circus “circle”; noun derivative of the verb


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What is a basic definition of search?

Search means to look to find something that is missing or whose location has been forgotten or is unknown. It also means to carefully examine a person or thing to find something that is hidden. A more modern meaning of search is to enter a query on a search engine or website in order to find a specific page or piece of information. Search is also used as a noun to refer to the process of looking for something. Search has many other senses as both a verb and a noun.

Most generally, search means to look for something. It usually implies something more thorough than just looking.

Real-life examples: People search for buried treasure, missing children, and things that they have lost, among many other things. Sometimes, people are said to search for abstract things, such as meaning or happiness.

Used in a sentence: We searched everywhere in the house for my sister’s missing toy. 

Search also means to look closely at or examine a person or thing to find something that may be concealed or hidden.

Real-life examples: Police and security guards search people to check for weapons or illegal items they may be hiding on themselves or in something they own. Collectors or appraisers will often search an item for damage or signs that something may be fake.

Used in a sentence: The art expert searched the statue to find the sculptor’s trademark signature that proved it was genuine. 

Search is also commonly used in the context of searching the internet, a website, or an individual webpage.

Real-life examples: When you use a search engine, you enter a search term in order to view the search results to find what you’re looking for. This process is called a search. 

Used in a sentence: I searched for the exact phrase, but there were no results, so I tried another search using only keywords.

As a noun, search also commonly refers to the process of trying to find something. An investigation is a kind of search for the truth.

Real-life examples: Police often conduct searches to find missing people or suspects. People participate in or start searches focused on finding many different things, such as romantic partners, colleges, missing wallets, or answers to questions.

Used in a sentence: I haven’t made much progress in my search for the perfect birthday present for my girlfriend.

Where does search come from?

The first records of the word search come from the early 1300s. It ultimately comes from the Late Latin verb circāre, meaning “to go around.” The noun sense comes from the verb.

Search shares an origin with the words circle and circus. The Latin circāre comes from the Latin word circus, meaning “ring” or “circle.”

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What are some other forms related to search?

  • searchable (adjective)
  • searcher (noun)

What are some synonyms for search?

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

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

How is search used in real life?

Search is a common word that’s used in the context of looking for something.



Try using search!

Is search used correctly in the following sentence?

After a long search, the man finally found his wedding ring, which he had dropped in the sand.

How to use search in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for search

/ (sɜːtʃ) /


Derived forms of search

searchable, adjectivesearcher, noun

Word Origin for search

C14: from Old French cerchier, from Late Latin circāre to go around, from Latin circus circle
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with search


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.