Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Scrutinize

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is scrutinize. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Scrutinize means “to examine (something) carefully especially in a critical way.”

// I closely scrutinized my opponent’s every move before making my own.

// Her performance was carefully scrutinized by her employer.


“U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee will lead a new subcommittee investigating the lack of competition in ticketing markets. Klobuchar stressed the need to scrutinize Ticketmaster’s dominance over the concert ticket market in light of chaotic Taylor Swift Eras Tour sales last week.” — Jazz Monroe, Pitchfork, 23 Nov. 2022

Did You Know?

Scrutinize the history of scrutinize far back enough and you wind up sifting through trash: the word comes from Latin scrutari, which means “to search, to examine,” and scrutari likely comes from scruta, meaning “trash,” the etymology evoking one who searches through trash for anything of value. The noun scrutiny preceded scrutinize in English, and in its earliest 15th century use referred to a formal vote, and later to an official examination of votes. Scrutinize was established in the 17th century with its familiar “to examine closely” meaning, but retained reference to voting with the meaning “to examine votes” at least into the 18th century. And while the term scrutineer can be a general term referring to someone who examines something, it is also sometimes used specifically as a term for an election poll watcher.

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