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 ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.