Definition of inquisitor in US English:



  • 1A person making an inquiry, especially one seen to be excessively harsh or searching.

    ‘the professional inquisitors of the press’
    • ‘At least I was able to satisfy my inquisitors that I wasn't a Freemason, something which evidently bothers the powers that be a good deal.’
    • ‘He laughed nervously, buying time by saying ‘thanks’ to his inquisitor, then he managed one example.’
    • ‘The Prime Minister merely looked ahead, eyes and jaw grimly fixed, and uncharacteristically ignored his inquisitor.’
    • ‘This is far from the first time that BBC sources have turned out to have suspect backgrounds and/or motives - either unnoticed or undeclared by our fearless BBC inquisitors.’
    • ‘Well, the inquisitor in our party was curious about the specifics of the policy, and jokingly needled the ranger about the prohibition.’
    • ‘It was an intemperate outburst, but even as he stamped out of the room with a dark glower, his inquisitors were breaking into smiles.’
    • ‘For these kindly inquisitors, all romantic beginnings set the full context for everything that followed (never mind what really happened as the couple came to truly know each other).’
    • ‘That all sounds great, say his inquisitors, who must be exchanging puzzled glances and looking incredulous during this, but it's not really you, is it?’
    • ‘My friend was dragged off in his underwear to face the university inquisitors.’
    • ‘I was hired on the spot because my inquisitor thought I evidenced a degree of cheekiness that would ensure my survival as her underling.’
    • ‘Many of my inquisitors have been young people who are seriously historically and politically clueless.’
    • ‘‘The answer is no, I am not interested, and it gets very tiresome to have it brought up all the time,’ Andrew told a cowering gang of inquisitors.’
    • ‘I'm also surprised at how confident my inquisitors are that I will naturally have to slam the President, which is the prospect the left seems to be anticipating with some glee.’
    • ‘Visit any office building over four stories in height and you're likely to run a gauntlet of inquisitors.’
    • ‘He completely nailed his inquisitors, so much so, that they've pulled the testimony off the Congressional website.’
    • ‘Maybe the inquisitors were confused or just thick.’
    • ‘Alright, say my more astute inquisitors, why not go the whole hog and adopt my mother's surname or even my granny's, etc etc?’
    • ‘He jokes casually with old acquaintances and tackles each question head on, his bright brown eyes searching the faces of his inquisitors.’
    • ‘To top it all off, the disgraced former councillor accused his inquisitors of dragging his family into the process.’
    • ‘She was whisked back to her North Yorkshire home - leaving those who had packed the public gallery none the wiser after she repeatedly told inquisitors she could not remember or had no knowledge of what they asked.’
    inspector, examiner, enquirer, explorer, analyser
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1historical An officer of the Inquisition.
      • ‘With almost no more native and very few foreign Protestants to prosecute, inquisitors began to target other sorts of religious 'deviants'.’
      • ‘Having heard their confessions, the inquisitor could impose a penance or punishment, which ranged from wearing yellow crosses to indicate that a witness had been guilty of heretical activities, to being burned alive at the stake.’
      • ‘Theologians and inquisitors attributed these offenses to the devil's work, to which socially marginal, uneducated women were seen as especially susceptible.’
      • ‘This book, and others like it, instructed inquisitors on how to spot a witch and on which questions to ask in order to elicit the 'right' answers.’
      • ‘As a practical matter the inquisitors tended to pay scant attention to the sincerity of Christian beliefs among the poor, focusing their attention upon the more affluent, who could and did often buy their tormentors off.’


Late Middle English: from French inquisiteur, from Latin inquisitor, from the verb inquirere (see enquire).