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

n an instance of questioning

“we made inquiries of all those who were present”
enquiry, interrogation, query, question
the speech act of replying to a question
Type of:
inquiring, questioning
a request for information

n a search for knowledge

enquiry, research
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
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

n a systematic investigation of a matter of public interest

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

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