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From Middle French consulter, from Latin consultare (to deliberate, consult), frequentative of consulere (to consult, deliberate, consider, reflect upon, ask advice), from com- (together) + -sulere, of uncertain origin.




consult (plural consults)

  1. (obsolete) The act of consulting or deliberating; consultation
  2. (obsolete) the result of consultation; determination; decision.
    • (Can we date this quote by John Dryden and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      The council broke; And all grave consults dissolved in smoke.
  3. (obsolete) A council; a meeting for consultation.
    • 1730, Jonathan Swift, Death and Daphne, Chapter 5
      a consult of coquettes
  4. (obsolete) Agreement; concert.
  5. (US) A visit, e.g. to a doctor; a consultation.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The noun consult is avoided in British English, where consultation is preferred. In American English, they are merely synonyms.



consult (third-person singular simple present consults, present participle consulting, simple past and past participle consulted)

  1. (intransitive) To seek the opinion or advice of another; to take counsel; to deliberate together; to confer.
    • William Shakespeare
      Let us consult upon to-morrow's business.
    • Thomas Hobbes
      All the laws of England have been made by the kings of England, consulting with the nobility and commons.
  2. (intransitive) To advise or offer expertise.
  3. (intransitive) To work as a consultant or contractor rather than as a full-time employee of a firm.
  4. (transitive) To ask advice of; to seek the opinion of (a person)
    • 1899, John Cotton Dana, chapter 1, in A Library Primer:
      If you have no library commission, consult a lawyer and get from him a careful statement of what can be done under present statutory regulations.
  5. (transitive) To refer to (something) for information.
    Coordinate term: look up
    • 1904, Guy Wetmore Carryl, chapter 3, in Far from the Maddening Girls:
      Which reminds me that I have never remembered from that hour to consult the dictionary upon a selvage.
    • William Whewell
      Men forgot, or feared, to consult nature, to seek for new truths, to do what the great discoverers of other times had done; they were content to consult libraries.
  6. (transitive) To have reference to, in judging or acting; to have regard to; to consider; as, to consult one's wishes.
    • L'Estrange
      We are [] to consult the necessities of life, rather than matters of ornament and delight.
  7. (transitive, obsolete) To deliberate upon; to take for.
    • Edward Hyde Clarendon
      Many things were there consulted for the future, yet nothing was positively resolved.
  8. (transitive, obsolete) To bring about by counsel or contrivance; to devise; to contrive.
    • Bible, Heb. ii. 10.
      Thou hast consulted shame to thy use by cutting off many people.


Related terms[edit]

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for consult in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)

Further reading[edit]