When you ask the guy behind the counter if they've got any aspirin, you're making an inquiry. Almost any search for information or knowledge is an inquiry, though an inquiry is often an official search.

Though any question is, technically, an inquiry, that word is usually used to refer to an official or public search for the truth. For instance, after a plane crash, the government launches an inquiry into the cause. Politicians and government officials are often the ones who demand an inquiry when an important question needs to be answered, but a child can do the same thing. If your kid wants to know what's for dinner, she can make an inquiry about it. She can also just, y'know, ask.

Definitions of inquiry
  1. noun
    an instance of questioning
    “we made inquiries of all those who were present”
    synonyms: enquiry, interrogation, query, question
    see moresee less
    the speech act of replying to a question
    type of:
    inquiring, questioning
    a request for information
  2. noun
    a search for knowledge
    synonyms: enquiry, research
    see moresee less
    show 11 types...
    hide 11 types...
    nature study
    the study of animals and plants in the natural world (usually at an elementary level)
    experiment, experimentation
    the testing of an idea
    empirical research
    an empirical search for knowledge
    investigation, probe
    an inquiry into unfamiliar or questionable activities
    canvass, opinion poll, poll, public opinion poll, survey
    an inquiry into public opinion conducted by interviewing a random sample of people
    the study and classification of armorial bearings and the tracing of genealogies
    pilot experiment
    a preliminary experiment whose outcome can lead to a more extensive experiment
    test, trial, trial run, tryout
    trying something to find out about it
    fishing expedition
    an investigation undertaken in the hope (but not the stated purpose) of discovering information
    exit poll
    a poll of voters as they leave the voting place; usually taken by news media in order to predict the outcome of an election
    straw poll, straw vote
    an unofficial vote taken to determine opinion on some issue
    type of:
    problem solving
    the thought processes involved in solving a problem
  3. noun
    a systematic investigation of a matter of public interest
    synonyms: enquiry
    see moresee less
    means test
    an inquiry into the financial position of someone applying for financial aid
    an inquiry into the cause of an unexpected death
    type of:
    investigating, investigation
    the work of inquiring into something thoroughly and systematically
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week