a. A slender, flexible surgical instrument used to explore a wound or body cavity.
b. An electrode or other device that can be placed inside something to take and convey measurements.
c. A substance, such as DNA, that is radioactively labeled or otherwise marked and used to detect or identify another substance in a sample.
d. A space probe.
a. An exploratory action or expedition, especially one designed to investigate and obtain information on a remote or unknown region: the scouts' probe of enemy territory.
b. The act of exploring or searching with a device or instrument: the surgeon's probe of the clogged artery.
c. An investigation into unfamiliar matters or questionable activities; a penetrating inquiry: a congressional probe into price fixing; a reporter's probe into a public figure's past. See Synonyms at inquiry.
v. probed, prob·ing, probes
a. To penetrate or explore physically, especially with a probe, in order to find or discover something: "Chimpanzees use a variety of tools to probe termite mounds" (Virginia Morell).
b. To investigate by means of a chemical probe.
a. To make an inquiry about (something); investigate or examine: probed the impact of technology on social behavior.
b. To subject (a person) to questioning; interrogate.
1. To make a physical search, especially by penetrating with a probe: birds probing in the sand for clams.
2. To pose questions or conduct an investigation: The police are probing into what really happened.
[Middle English, examination, from Medieval Latin proba, from Late Latin, proof, from Latin probāre, to test, from probus, good; see per1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.