View synonyms for search


[ surch ]

verb (used with object)

  1. to go or look through (a place, area, etc.) carefully in order to find something missing or lost:

    They searched the woods for the missing child. I searched the desk for the letter.

    Synonyms: investigate

  2. to look at or examine (a person, object, etc.) carefully in order to find something concealed:

    He searched the vase for signs of a crack. The police searched the suspect for weapons.

    Synonyms: inspect

  3. to explore or examine in order to discover:

    They searched the hills for gold.

  4. to look at, read, or examine (a record, writing, collection, repository, etc.) for information:

    to search a property title; He searched the courthouse for a record of the deed to the land.

  5. to look at or beneath the superficial aspects of to discover a motive, reaction, feeling, basic truth, etc.:

    He searched her face for a clue to her true feelings.

  6. to look into, question, or scrutinize:

    She searched her conscience.

  7. (of natural elements) to pierce or penetrate:

    The sunlight searched the room's dark corners.

  8. to uncover or find by examination or exploration (often followed by out ):

    to search out all the facts.

  9. Military. to fire artillery over (an area) with successive changes in gun elevation.
  10. Digital Technology. to electronically retrieve data, web pages, database records, or other information from (files, databases, etc.) by typing relevant terms into a search engine or other search tool:

    Most of us have searched the internet for medical advice.

verb (used without object)

  1. to inquire, investigate, examine, or seek; conduct an examination or investigation.


    1. the act of searching; careful examination or investigation:

      Her date with the guy she met online went badly, so her search for “Mr. Right” continues.

    2. an instance of this:

      Did the search turn up any clues?

    Synonyms: scrutiny, inspection

  1. the practice, on the part of naval officers of a belligerent nation, of boarding and examining a suspected neutral vessel at sea in order to ascertain its true nationality and determine if it is carrying contraband:

    the right of visit and search.

  2. Digital Technology. the act or process of electronically retrieving data, web pages, database records, or other information from files, databases, etc., as in Boolean search keyword search

    A search of the article turned up two references to my company.


/ sɜːtʃ /


  1. to look through (a place, records, etc) thoroughly in order to find someone or something
  2. tr to examine (a person) for concealed objects by running one's hands over the clothing
  3. to look at or examine (something) closely

    to search one's conscience

  4. trfoll byout to discover by investigation
  5. surgery
    1. to explore (a bodily cavity) during a surgical procedure
    2. to probe (a wound)
  6. tr military to fire all over (an area)
  7. computing to review (a file) to locate specific information
  8. archaic.
    to penetrate
  9. search me informal.
    I don't know


  1. the act or an instance of searching
  2. the examination of a vessel by the right of search
  3. computing
    1. a review of a file to locate specific information
    2. ( as modifier )

      a search routine

  4. right of search
    international law the right possessed by the warships of a belligerent state in time of war to board and search merchant vessels to ascertain whether ship or cargo is liable to seizure

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Derived Forms

  • ˈsearchable, adjective
  • ˈsearcher, noun

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Other Words From

  • searcha·ble adjective
  • searcha·ble·ness noun
  • searcher noun
  • outsearch verb (used with object)
  • pre·search noun verb (used with object)
  • under·search noun
  • un·searched adjective
  • well-searched adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of search1

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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Word History and Origins

Origin of search1

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

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. search me, I don't know:

    Why has it taken so long to reach a decision? Search me.

More idioms and phrases containing search

In addition to the idiom beginning with search , also see high and low, search ; in search of .

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Example Sentences

You’re in search of sweets for your sweethearts more than ever and you’re ready to try something new.

Best weighted blanket brands to knowThere are a few specifically great brands we think you should be familiar with when you start your weighted blanket search.

It plans on rolling it out globally at some point, which is expected to have a 7% impact in the search queries.

One of the great advantages of having search data mapped on a graph is that you can easily spot the highs and lows of how many times keywords were searched for.

In 2019, The Fact Checker noticed the spread of misleading video posed a challenge not only to fact-checkers but also to anyone relying on social media or Web searches to get information or find the latest news.

In my search for answers about who I was, I pored over religious texts in search of enlightenment.

After a hit, they would adjust the search to the most likely route from there.

The ATSB has been impressive in the way it has taken over the direction of the search for Flight 370.

Search teams find dozens of people and jet debris floating in the Java Sea, as the airline confirms the wreckage is from QZ8501.

We separate the search for justice from the search for truth at our peril.

Felipe was so full of impatience to continue his search, that he hardly listened to the Father's words.

He will search out the hidden meanings of proverbs, and will be conversant in the secrets of parables.

But such refuge, he knew, could avail him nothing if the bear should scent him out and search for him.

His search has always hitherto been fruitless, and he has sunk back, disheartened, into the sea.

Joe,” said Mr. Wardle, after an unsuccessful search in all his pockets, “is my snuff-box on the sofa?


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More About Search

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.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




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