Definition of inquire in US English:


(British enquire)


  • 1reporting verb Ask for information from someone.

    with direct speech ‘“How well do you know Berlin?” he inquired of Hencke’
    with clause ‘I inquired where he lived’
    no object ‘he inquired about cottages for sale’
    • ‘When the aunt inquired about the reason for this change of heart, he narrated the entire incident.’
    • ‘She inquired about me and was led to the back room where she saw that I was in pain and throwing up.’
    • ‘Omar inquired of the deputation the cause of the frequent risings on part of the Persians.’
    • ‘Gently, she knelt down to the defeated man's level, and inquired about the money.’
    • ‘Many of our readers have inquired about what to wear this season and which articles would get the most use.’
    • ‘However, since that one man inquired about his former maid, he felt a bit upset.’
    • ‘For any further information inquire at your town hall.’
    • ‘Bill inquired about the boat, which was in good condition but had been neglected.’
    • ‘When he reached her, he quickly inquired about the wounds on her legs and arms.’
    • ‘It's the Congress' job to determine how candid she was with us as we inquired about this story.’
    • ‘Like Schwab, it will give more information if the customer inquires.’
    • ‘We also inquired about mobility and living circumstances to determine any association.’
    • ‘The first of these inquired about the future of religiously informed scholarship.’
    • ‘Curious, I inquired about the reason for the abandonment of the ancestral position.’
    • ‘I fear he would have been aghast if I'd inquired of such trivial matters.’
    • ‘I was irritated, and almost inquired about what was so comical, but I held my tongue.’
    • ‘The informant said he inquired what would happen to the immigrants who could not come up with the money.’
    • ‘I have not inquired of colleagues whether they received the memorandum or whether they were on that mailing list.’
    • ‘I rang at ten and politely inquired of the female who took the call where my taxi was.’
    • ‘He and George inquired about a county seat and had found it twenty miles away.’
    1. 1.1inquire afterno object Ask about the health and well-being of (someone)
      ‘Annie inquired after her parents’
      • ‘He opened his mouth to inquire after the innkeeper, but she appeared as though his thought had summoned her.’
      • ‘Greetings may be prolonged, for it is customary to inquire after a person's family, health, and work.’
      • ‘Well, he does constantly inquire after your condition.’
      • ‘He smiled remembering Matthews cornering him a day ago to inquire after Pamela.’
      • ‘Esther does not inquire after her, Allan offers no information.’
      • ‘The captain has sent me to inquire after the crew.’
      • ‘Dazed and bruised and embarrassed, I was grateful to the young folk who paused in their colourful flight homewards to inquire after my welfare.’
      • ‘Our doctors were about to take leave when she began to inquire after his sister, whom he desired them to visit before their departure.’
      • ‘Although she does inquire after Mrs. Thornley's life and specifically about Mr. Thornley, she pays only slight attention to what Mrs. Thornley says in her brief replies.’
      • ‘By the time Jeff declared he must leave, he had quite forgotten that he had originally come to inquire after Maggie.’
      • ‘For people who inquire after her, simply say, ‘Things are not good, but I appreciate your asking.’’
      • ‘He slipped away and began to inquire after Wells, who still had yet to make an appearance.’
      • ‘‘Mr. Tremain,’ Mrs. Wellington asked as they waited for the food to be brought out, ‘might I inquire after your mother?’’
    2. 1.2inquire forno object Ask to see or speak to (someone)
      ‘that was Mr. Paul inquiring for you—I told him he couldn't come in’
      • ‘Dorset discovered she was not the first to inquire for the young maiden and all the sudden attention was of great concern to the abbess.’
  • 2inquire intono object Investigate; look into.

    ‘the task of political sociology is to inquire into the causes of political events’
    • ‘A general guide to use in selecting a financial planner is to inquire into the person's membership in the professional associations related to the financial planning vocation.’
    • ‘I think it's also correct that when you appoint someone to the joint chiefs of staff, you shouldn't inquire into their personal beliefs.’
    • ‘The commission appointed to inquire into the cause of riots also identified groups involved in the riots, but no effective action has been taken so far against the perpetrators.’
    • ‘The Board requested staff to inquire into arranging a meeting with the Pharmacy Technician Educators Council during the Board's July meeting.’
    • ‘It would be not only unseemly but legally improper for the Court to inquire into an academic institution's self-defined educational mission.’
    • ‘But the succeeding governor, Franklin, appointed a board in 1839 to inquire into the conditions at the Flinders Island settlement.’
    • ‘That's what the Senate's going to inquire into.’
    • ‘If there is a relatively quick victory, no one will inquire into the justifications too closely.’
    • ‘Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary's authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation.’
    • ‘One of the answers I got wrong suggested I should inquire into an applicant's ethnic background.’
    • ‘The crown court is bound by an earlier high court ruling, in a case brought by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, that the English courts cannot inquire into the legality of a decision to go to war.’
    • ‘But there is no reference in the motion to the establishment of another tribunal to inquire into the international drug firms which produced the infected blood.’
    • ‘I guess what my dilemma boils down to is this: Is there any acceptable way for me to inquire into his personal life?’
    • ‘Other respondents expressed the need to inquire into the social and cultural contexts in which people develop in order to understand how knowledge is constructed.’
    • ‘The reason some are saved and others are lost is beyond comprehension; it has to do with divine choice and that alone, and it is absurd to inquire into God's will.’
    • ‘But anyone writing a book on solutions to these problems would surely be expected to inquire into its roots.’
    • ‘Only if they have already booked an illegal alien for a felony or for multiple misdemeanors may they inquire into his status or report him.’
    • ‘Once these papers are received the provisional arrest continues and the Central Government then notifies a magistrate to inquire into the allegations of the borrower country.’
    • ‘She does not inquire into what makes banks special.’
    • ‘It is when you inquire into eating habits, not just recent but throughout entire lifetimes, that all this malnutrition begins to make sense.’


Inquire (and inquiry) are the usual US spellings; enquire and enquiry are the standard forms in Britain. Some American speakers put the stress on the first syllable of the noun inquiry, but the dominant pronunciation stresses the second


Middle English enquere (later inquere), from Old French enquerre, from a variant of Latin inquirere, based on quaerere ‘seek’. The spelling with in-, influenced by Latin, dates from the 15th century.