search (v.)

c. 1300, serchen, "go through and examine carefully and in detail" (transitive), from Old French cerchier "to search" (12c., Modern French chercher), from Latin circare "go about, wander, traverse," in Late Latin "to wander hither and thither, go round, explore," from circus "circle" (see circus). Compare Spanish cognate cercar "encircle, surround."

The meaning "make an examination of" a person, bags, etc., is from early 15c. Phrase search me as a verbal shrug of ignorance is recorded by 1901. Search engine attested from 1988. The phrase search-and-destroy as a modifier is by 1966, American English, a coinage from the Vietnam War. Search-and-rescue is by 1944.

search (n.)

c. 1400, serche, "act of searching; a seeking or looking; a search through an area or a place; examination of records, wills, etc.;" early 15c., "right to investigate illegal activity;" from Anglo-French serche, Old French cerche "investigation," from cerchier (see search (v.)).

Search-warrant , granted by authority to a constable to enter premises of suspected persons (originally especially to recover stolen goods) is attested from 1739. Search-party "party engaged in seeking for something lost" is by 1854 (in Elisha Kent Kane's account of the U.S. expedition seeking Sir John Franklin).

updated on March 20, 2022