To investigate is to look into something systematically. If you don't understand how tornadoes work, for example, investigate the forces of wind and find out.

Investigate still acts a lot like the word it comes from, investigationem meaning "a searching into," which came from the Latin for "to track a footprint." It's exactly what you do when you investigate. You can investigate in the name of science, which is to look into something systematically, like when you research how tornadoes work. If you investigate a person, you find out everything you can — and you might need to hire a private eye for help.

Definitions of investigate

v conduct an inquiry or investigation of

“The district attorney's office investigated reports of possible irregularities”
enquire, inquire
secretly collect sensitive or classified information; engage in espionage
Type of:
examine, probe
question or examine thoroughly and closely

v investigate scientifically

“Let's investigate the syntax of Chinese”
look into
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explore, research, search
inquire into
travel to or penetrate into
examine, probe
question or examine thoroughly and closely
attempt to find out in a systematically and scientific manner
to conduct a test or investigation
explore for useful or valuable things or substances, such as minerals
search the internet (for information) using the Google search engine
search for a location and directions by means of the MapQuest program
explore anew
beat about, cast about, cast around
search anxiously
open up and explore a new area
cave, spelunk
explore natural caves
explore or survey for the purpose of making a map
enquire, inquire
conduct an inquiry or investigation of
question after cross-examination by opposing counsel
consult, look up, refer
seek information from
hear, try
examine or hear (evidence or a case) by judicial process
Type of:
analyse, analyze, canvas, canvass, examine, study
consider in detail and subject to an analysis in order to discover essential features or meaning

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