Definition of inquisitorial in English:



  • 1Of or like an inquisitor, especially in questioning someone in a harsh or intensive manner.

    ‘he was questioning her in a cold, inquisitorial voice’
    • ‘The British version depends partly on the audience's playing along with the show's somber, inquisitorial mood.’
    • ‘The atmosphere here is more inquisitorial than at the other meeting.’
    • ‘Yet another inquisitorial voice seeks clarification: Does the poet identify himself as a post-colonial subject or not?’
    • ‘The committee system, which was designed to be inquisitorial and to scrutinise ministers, was neutered.’
    • ‘I need the opinion-drivers in the country to do a less inquisitorial job and to give us a hand on this thing.’
    • ‘Such inquiries take various forms, but the pressures seem to be increasing for them to be set up as independent external investigations with full inquisitorial powers’
    • ‘Questions were firing but this forum wasn't inquisitorial.’
    • ‘What prevents American journalists from being equally inquisitorial?’
    • ‘I fully expected to find someone broken by inquisitorial pressure.’
    • ‘There was barely an inquisitorial question from any of them, and who cares about the ground rules?’
    • ‘He was a huge man with the innocent eyes of a deer, and he was almost weeping as he defended himself against Bobby's inquisitorial arguments.’
    • ‘He never interrogated anyone in inquisitorial fashion about their beliefs and condemned them, but was able to look into their hearts.’
    questioning, enquiring, inquisitive, probing, searching, quizzing, quizzical, curious, intrigued, investigative
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    1. 1.1Law (of a trial or legal procedure) characterized by the judge performing an examining role.
      ‘administration is accompanied by a form of inquisitorial justice’
      • ‘I can therefore make the submission that the pre-trial procedure (commencing from the state collecting the facts, to the advanced disclosure, culminating with plea bargaining) in the Hong Kong Magistrate is inquisitorial.’
      • ‘Like most of Latin America, Chile inherited an inquisitorial legal system from Spain.’
      • ‘Opponents of implementing the inquisitorial system argue the efficacy of the adversarial system.’
      • ‘He has said he also wants to take a far more fundamental look at whether there is a case for moving towards a more continental-style inquisitorial system in terrorist cases.’
      • ‘Britain could be forced to give up its adversarial court system in favour of the inquisitorial style favoured in much of continental Europe.’


Mid 18th century: from medieval Latin inquisitorius (from Latin inquisitor, from inquirere ‘inquire’) + -al.