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From Middle English serchen, from Anglo-Norman sercher, Old French cerchier, from Latin circō ‎(to circle; go around; search for).



search ‎(plural searches)

  1. An attempt to find something.
    • 2012 October 31, David M. Halbfinger, "[1]," New York Times (retrieved 31 October 2012):
      At least eight people died, and officials expressed deep concerns that the toll would rise as more searches of homes were carried out.
    With only five minutes until we were meant to leave, the search for the keys started in earnest.
  2. The act of searching in general.
    • 2013 June 14, Jonathan Freedland, “Obama's once hip brand is now tainted”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 1, page 18:
      Where we once sent love letters in a sealed envelope, or stuck photographs of our children in a family album, now such private material is despatched to servers and clouds operated by people we don't know and will never meet. Perhaps we assume that our name, address and search preferences will be viewed by some unseen pair of corporate eyes, probably not human, and don't mind that much.
    Search is a hard problem for computers to solve efficiently.


Related terms[edit]


search ‎(third-person singular simple present searches, present participle searching, simple past and past participle searched)

  1. (transitive) To look in (a place) for something.
    I searched the garden for the keys and found them in the vegetable patch.
  2. (intransitive, followed by "for") To look thoroughly.
    The police are searching for evidence in his flat.
    • John Locke
      It sufficeth that they have once with care sifted the matter, and searched into all the particulars.
    • 1909, Archibald Marshall, The Squire's Daughter, chapterI:
      He tried to persuade Cicely to stay away from the ball-room for a fourth dance. [] But she said she must go back, and when they joined the crowd again [] she found her mother standing up before the seat on which she had sat all the evening searching anxiously for her with her eyes, and her father by her side.
    • 2013 July 6, “The rise of smart beta”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8843, page 68:
      Investors face a quandary. Cash offers a return of virtually zero in many developed countries; government-bond yields may have risen in recent weeks but they are still unattractive. Equities have suffered two big bear markets since 2000 and are wobbling again. It is hardly surprising that pension funds, insurers and endowments are searching for new sources of return.
  3. (transitive, now rare) To look for, seek.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene,
      To search the God of loue, her Nymphes she sent / Throughout the wandring forrest euery where [].
    • 1611, Bible (KJV), Ezekiel 34:11:
      For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.
    • John Milton (1608-1674)
      Enough is left besides to search and know.
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To probe or examine (a wound).
    • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book I, chapter xvj:
      Now torne we to the xj kynges that retorned vnto a cyte that hyghte Sorhaute / the whiche cyte was within kynge Vryens / and ther they refresshed hem as wel as they myght / and made leches serche theyr woundys and sorowed gretely for the dethe of her peple
    • 1588, William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, II.3:
      Now to the bottome dost thou search my wound.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.4:
      Thus when they all had sorowed their fill, / They softly gan to search his griesly wownd [].
    • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, II.35:
      His wife perceiving him to droope and languish away, entreated him she might leasurely search and neerely view the quality of his disease [].
  5. (obsolete) To examine; to try; to put to the test.


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