Share this entry

search Syllabification: search

Definition of search in English:


[no object]
1Try to find something by looking or otherwise seeking carefully and thoroughly: I searched among the rocks, but there was nothing Daniel is then able to search out the most advantageous mortgage Hugh will be searching for the truth
More example sentences
  • His lax brown eyes scanned the conveyor belt carefully, searching for a black duffel bag.
  • We walked among the shops, searching for anyone who was looking for an apprentice.
  • He mounted once more and began to trot among the trees, searching for the source of the noise.
hunt (for), look for, seek, forage for, fish around/about for, look high and low for, ferret around/about for, root around/about for, rummage around/about for, cast around/about for
1.1 [with object] Examine (a place, vehicle, or person) thoroughly in order to find something or someone: she searched the house from top to bottom the guards searched him for weapons
More example sentences
  • Setting off the alarm at the security check, I was searched much more thoroughly than I'd ever been before.
  • The driver was searched by security guards but they did not check inside the lorry, said the newspaper.
  • Even I do not pay any attention to the armed guards searching me before I enter any public place.
look through, hunt through, explore, scour, rifle through, go through, sift through, comb, go through with a fine-tooth comb;
turn upside down, turn inside out, leave no stone unturned in
examine, inspect, check, frisk
1.2 [with object] Look for information in (a database or the World Wide Web) using a search engine: search our online archive for stories dating back to February 1996 I must search the Internet for one of his pictures [no object]: you can search for recipes by topic or by entering a keyword
More example sentences
  • I come across you useful site while searching for a hotel near the airport.
  • If people come to your site and consistently search for specific keyword phrases, then you know you are not making those keyword phrases obvious to visitors.
  • You can search their site for trips with last-minute availability by location, activity, or date, or other criteria.


Back to top  
1An act of searching for someone or something: the police carried out a thorough search of the premises he plans to go to the Himalayas in search of a yeti
More example sentences
  • In search of answers, they bolted and ran to alternative practitioners.
  • In search of opportunities to fulfil his dreams, he goes away from his caring brother.
  • Systematic literature searches were conducted to assess the evidence for and against the effectiveness of kava extract for treating anxiety.
hunt, look, quest;
pursuit, manhunt
searching for, hunting for, seeking, looking for, on the lookout for, in pursuit of
1.1An act or instance of searching a database or the World Wide Web: time-consuming searches of the Internet
More example sentences
  • We found qualitative studies that focused directly on double standards through our computerized database searches.
  • They often asked questions that were too vague or did not lend themselves to keyword searches on the computer databases.
  • A computerized search through all relevant databases was also conducted using several combinations of keywords.
1.2 Computing The systematic retrieval of information, or the facility for this.
1.3 (usually searches) Law An investigation of public records to find if a property is subject to any liabilities or encumbrances.
Example sentences
  • After a two-month search of public records in Britain, all leads ran dry.
  • She maintains that she did not discover the transfer until 1998 when her lawyer conducted a title search on the property.
  • Instruct your solicitor to inspect local and national searches and the title deeds for any onerous covenants, restrictions, etc.


Middle English: from Old French cerchier (verb), from late Latin circare 'go around', from Latin circus 'circle'.

  • This is from the Old French verb cerchier from late Latin circare ‘go round’, from Latin circus ‘circle’. The main semantic strands are ‘explore thoroughly’ (search the premises) and ‘try to find’ (search out the truth), both of which have been present from the start. In research (late 16th century) the prefix re- is an intensifier of the meaning. The Old English equivalent seek is unconnected, going back to an Indo-European root shared by Latin sagire ‘perceive by scent’.


search me!

informal I do not know (used for emphasis).



Example sentences
  • These questions guide searchers to the most effective information sources.
  • That's very important to us and for the protection of our searchers.
  • So far, searchers have found no clues in the latest search.

Words that rhyme with search

besmirch, birch, church, lurch, perch, smirch

Definition of search in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day confidant
Pronunciation: ˈkɒnfɪdant
a person with whom one shares a secret...