early 15c., "instrument for exploring wounds, etc.," also "an examination," from Medieval Latin proba "examination," in Late Latin "a test, proof," from Latin probare "show, demonstrate; test, inspect; judge by trial" (see prove). Meaning "act of probing" is 1890, from the verb; figurative sense of "penetrating investigation" is from 1903. Meaning "small, unmanned exploratory craft" is attested from 1953.
1640s, originally figurative; "to search thoroughly, interrogate;" from probe (n.) and partly from Latin probare "show, demonstrate; test, inspect." Physical sense of "to examine with a probe" is from 1680s. Related: Probed; probing; probingly.
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