Meaning of PROBE in English

I. ˈprōb noun

( -s )

Etymology: Medieval Latin proba examination, from Late Latin, proof, test, from Latin probare


a. : a surgical instrument that consists typically of a light slender fairly flexible pointed metal instrument like a small rod that is used typically for locating a foreign body (as a bullet embedded in a part of the body), for exploring a wound or suppurative tract by prodding or piercing, or for penetrating and exploring bodily passages and cavities

b. : something usually pointed and slender that resembles or is suggestive of such an instrument and that is used to penetrate, poke, or prod in an exploratory way

used a stick as a probe to test the ice on the lake


a. : one of several testing devices used in electronics or other physical sciences: as

(1) : a pointed metal tip that is attached to the free end of a conductor leading to or from an electronic instrument so as to make contact with a circuit element that is being checked

(2) : a slender wire or some other small slender object that is inserted into something (as a flame, a discharge tube) so as to test conditions (as potential differences) at a given point

(3) : a device (as a small special microphone attached to a larger conventional microphone) used to test a sound field with minimum disturbance of the field being tested

b. : a device (as a telescope, rocket, artificial satellite) used to penetrate into or scan an otherwise inaccessible area (as of space)


(1) : flying boom

(2) : a pipe attached to the end of a long flexible hose which is suspended from a tanker airplane in flight and to which another plane in flight connects its gas coupling for refueling

(3) : a pipe projecting forward from the nose of an airplane in flight that is connected with the drogue of a tanker airplane to receive fuel

d. : a small rod or similar object inserted into something as a medium of transmission or reception ; specifically : a metal rod used to draw energy from or inject energy into a klystron


[ probe (II) ]

a. : the action of probing

in the midst of a leisurely probe of his trouser pockets — Earle Birney

b. : a penetrating investigation or critical inquiry into something ; especially : an investigation (as by a legislative body or specially appointed committee) designed to ferret out any evidence of illegal or corrupt practices on the part of some individual or group

coupled with grand jury and legislative probes — Ed Wall

expected another probe would result merely in a reshuffle in police and political circles — Newsweek

c. : a tentative forward exploratory push, advance, or survey (as of a reconnaissance division, a group of explorers)

in three probes, we covered 1383 miles in five and a half days — W.R.Anderson & Clay Blair

the battalion made a couple of probes to test the strength and location of the enemy

Synonyms: see inquiry

II. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

transitive verb



(1) : to search into, search through, or explore with great thoroughness by or as if by penetrating or trying to penetrate deeply into unknown or obscure points or parts : investigate the points, parts, details, or nature of in this way : subject to intense close penetrating examination

probes every detail of his early life and education — Stuart MacClintock

probing the subconscious — Vance Packard

attempt to probe his sensations — Stephen Crane

: carefully explore by penetrating into each section

probed every part of the island — J.A.Michener

probed the coastlines of both North and South America — L.A.Brown

(2) : to subject to a penetrating investigation designed especially to ferret out any evidence of illegal or corrupt practices : conduct a probe of

spend considerable time in probing the actions of administrative officials — C.A.Herter

b. : to subject to one or more penetrating exploratory questions or remarks designed to elicit from another something that would otherwise remain unknown or obscure : sound out

probed them on the matter but got no satisfactory answer

probe me with that remark — Thomas Hardy

I'll probe him on the subject — W.S.Gilbert


(1) : to reach deeply into and search about all parts in a tentative exploratory way

probed his pockets but couldn't find the keys

(2) : to penetrate or push ahead into unknown or obscurely known parts of

probing space with rockets and artificial satellites

probing the wilderness with new roads

(3) : reconnoiter

probing an enemy outpost

(4) : to launch a small attack or especially a series of small attacks against so as to discover an opponent's strength or weakness or gain some other strategic or tactical advantage

probed enemy territory and withdrew after two or three skirmishes


a. : to penetrate into (as a wound, a cavity of the body) with a surgical probe (as in searching for or removing an embedded bullet, exploring the depth and direction of a sinus)

probing a gunshot wound

b. : to penetrate into with something sharp or pointed or otherwise resembling or suggestive of a probe usually so as to test, examine, or explore

kept probing the crusty snow with a pole

c. : to poke especially searchingly with some slender usually pointed object : prod

probed the glowworms with a bit of stick, and rolled them over — Thomas Hardy

fingered his heavy underlip as if probing it for a cold sore — Kenneth Roberts

3. : to cause to move ahead with sudden force : thrust

probed the blade of the knife in between the logs

intransitive verb

1. : to probe something

the surgeon kept probing until he located the bullet in the soldier's leg


a. : to make a searching exploratory investigation

without being able to probe into the real nature of it — Liam O'Flaherty

probe into things a little deeper — Edith Wharton

always probed below the surface of whatever aspect of his subject he discussed — J.D.Adams

b. : to search about in a tentative exploratory way

was probing for some way to discomfort me — Lloyd Alexander


a. : to reach out into something in a tentative exploratory way

as far as our telescopes can probe — George Gamow

b. : to penetrate or push ahead into unknown or obscurely known parts of something

new highways are probing deeper into the fastnesses of the north — Harold Griffin

4. : to force one's way forward with or as if with thrusting movements in spite of resistance : stab ahead or through : push forward

were probing to within 20 miles of Moscow — Time

Synonyms: see enter

III. noun

: a device (as an ultrasound generator) or a substance (as radioactively labeled DNA) used to obtain specific information (as detection of a virus or the location of specific segments of a nucleic acid) for diagnostic or experimental purposes

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.