Definition of enquire in English:



  • 1[reporting verb] Ask for information from someone.

    [no object] ‘he enquired about cottages for sale’
    [with clause] ‘I enquired where he lived’
    [with direct speech] ‘‘How well do you know Berlin?’ he enquired of Hencke’
    • ‘She also enquired about my career plans and what I had studied in college.’
    • ‘Others write to enquire about old friends, or to do genealogical research.’
    • ‘We are here to enquire and to secure information and facts.’
    • ‘The next day, the Inspector and a few policemen visited the farm and enquired about the matter.’
    • ‘Having enquired at all car rental information desks at Dublin airport, the answer was the same.’
    • ‘Someone e-mailed me to enquire whether I thought it was a good investment strategy.’
    • ‘‘It is a refreshing break from the serious stint,’ he accepts, when a reporter enquires about his rather long association with serious films.’
    • ‘They absorb every bit of information that is given and take the time to enquire and question.’
    • ‘‘Then how do you explain your income tax return reports you sold only $40,000 worth of sandwiches’ the officer enquires.’
    • ‘They wrote and enquired and searched for him but nobody could find him, so they had to appoint someone else.’
    • ‘I am writing to enquire about a piece of information that sounds to me like an urban legend.’
    • ‘Anyone requiring further information should enquire at the shop.’
    ask, make enquiries, ask questions, pose a question, request information
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    1. 1.1[no object]Ask about the health and well-being of (someone)
      ‘Angus enquired after her parents’
      • ‘Instead, she smiled at Dan in a friendly manner, enquired after his health and then left well-enough alone.’
      • ‘Somebody enquired after a couple of former pupils, who, I gathered, came from a dysfunctional background and were out-of-control.’
      • ‘The duke was a very kind-hearted, amiable man who always enquired after his servants' well-being.’
      • ‘More than 175 volunteers maintain the program, which monitor the welfare of the frail and elderly, by contacting them each day to enquire after their well-being.’
      • ‘Mr. Sydney, after extending his greetings and enquiring after his employer's good health, lifted a pile from a chair in front of an overflowing partners desk and flapped the seat clean with his handkerchief.’
      • ‘She would write to my mother twice a year, and sometimes enquire after me kindly.’
      • ‘He was lying alone in his house, and nobody went to enquire after his well-being.’
      • ‘My students have been sweet, approaching me in the corridors to enquire after my health.’
      • ‘After the usual formalities of enquiring after their welfare, he broached the reason for his arrival.’
      • ‘After enquiring after each other's welfare they consulted at length and then returned to where they had come from.’
      • ‘As well as health problems, Flora has had ongoing educational difficulties, but the documentary will allege that Parkinson made little or no effort to enquire after her well-being, still less to see her or provide for her.’
      • ‘David never failed to enquire after the health of Mrs Peri - Victor's mother-in-law.’
      • ‘Wouldn't have thought that someone like you would be enquiring after the well-being of their elderly relatives.’
      • ‘Coming out of his study, he enquired after Carrie.’
      • ‘The report adds: ‘While en-route the President phoned the officer, enquiring after his well-being and apologising for the accident.’’
    2. 1.2[no object]Ask to see or speak to (someone)
      ‘that was Mr Paul enquiring for you—I told him he couldn't come in’
      • ‘Early in the morning of Sunday, 21st November 1920 a number of men called to 38 Mount Street and on enquiring for Lieutenant Aimes were let in by the maid Katherine Farrell.’
      • ‘If by chance, you should look for me, perchance you'll not me find - enquire for Renardine.’
      • ‘When she reiterated that she was enquiring for someone else, the voice asked her whether the patient was still breathing!’
      • ‘Right away he enquired for former team mates Seán and Mickey.’
  • 2[no object] Investigate; look into.

    ‘the task of political sociology is to enquire into the causes of political events’
    • ‘The issue is whether, in carrying out this function, the Magistrates have power to enquire into the validity of the maintenance assessments themselves.’
    • ‘The standard of patient care has never been in question or doubt and remains high and unaffected by any of the issues being enquired into by the trustees.’
    • ‘‘The matters that the inspectors were asked to enquire into were very serious, particularly in the context of the conduct of a banking business,’ said the judge.’
    • ‘We are quite keen to enquire into the issues raised by our terms of reference, in order that we may make appropriate recommendations for further good practice within the Met, rather than concentrating on criticisms.’
    • ‘Absolutely, and that is particularly so in cases where one is enquiring into the state of mind of an officer, as to whether he acted in self-defence, which is a very common issue.’
    • ‘We are very keen to enquire into the issues raised by our terms of reference, so that we can make appropriate recommendations for the further good practice within the Met, rather than concentrating on just making criticisms.’
    • ‘Moreover, in all but the simplest of cases the Court will be required not merely to inspect the defence but to enquire into it - a process which may, in matters of any complexity, take hours or even days.’
    • ‘We are keen to enquire into the issues raised by our terms of reference, so we can make appropriate recommendations for further good practice into the Metropolitan Police Service, rather than concentrate on criticising individuals.’
    • ‘That said, we are very keen nevertheless to enquire into the issues which are raised by our terms of reference, and to make appropriate recommendations for further good practice within the MPS.’
    • ‘You should enquire into any gap year organisation's aims and objectives, and its involvement of the local community in its activities.’
    • ‘If the Inspector does not enquire into it, or does so and finds no reason to amend the return, the statutory scheme of self-assessment is final.’
    • ‘It's my firm belief that the Government did not exaggerate the intelligence it received - so why not enquire into the sources and background to the case for war?’
    • ‘The person conducting the review was told not to enquire into the question of whether plagiarism had even taken place!’
    • ‘We are extremely keen to enquire into the issues raised by the terms of reference that have been given to us, in order that we can make appropriate recommendations for further good practice within the Metropolitan Police Service.’
    • ‘It works out tax bills, checks you have paid the right amount and can enquire into your return.’
    • ‘We are very keen to enquire into those issues raised by our terms of reference, so that we can make appropriate recommendation for further good practice.’
    • ‘We should enquire into exactly how far his stupidity and ignorance will stretch, what the history is, what are his motives and what's he hiding?’
    • ‘He would enquire into their accounts worrying whether too many letters had been sent first class rather than second, but then his mother had taught him the virtue of thrift.’
    • ‘We are keen to enquire into the issues raised in our terms of reference.’
    • ‘We are very keen to enquire into the issues which impact on our terms of reference, and to make appropriate recommendations in order that we can introduce further good practice into the service itself.’
    conduct an enquiry, make enquiries, probe, look
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The traditional distinction between enquire and inquire is that enquire is used for general senses of ‘ask’ while inquire is reserved for uses meaning ‘make a formal investigation’. In practice, however, there is little discernible distinction in the way the two words are used today in British English, although inquiry is commoner than enquiry in the sense ‘a formal investigation’. In all senses inquire and inquiry are the more usual forms in US English, whereas enquire and enquiry are chiefly restricted to British English


Middle English enquere, from Old French enquerre, based on Latin inquirere (based on quaerere seek).