Word Confusion: Enquiry versus Inquiry

Posted December 14, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Y’all’ll love this one! It means the same thing, so the only caution possible is that you stay consistent in which one you use in your story or report.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Enquiry Inquiry
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster: inquiry; Cambridge Dictionary: inquiry

A building into which one may enter and enquire

Image by Ilokaqnue (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

KTDO PESC Kwun Tong District Office Public Enquiry Service Centre.

Two tables set at 90-degree angles and filled with people testifying

Image is in the public domain, via The David B. Keidan Collection of Digital Images from the Central Zionist Archives (via Harvard University Library), via Wikimedia Commons

David Ben-Gurion testifying before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry in Jerusalem.

Part of Grammar:
Plural: enquiries
Another term for inquiry
Plural: inquiries
Another term for enquiry
A British preference for the same thing. An act of asking for information

  • An official investigation
  • A systematic investigation often of a matter of public interest

Examination into facts or principles

She refused to answer enquiries from the media about her marriage.

The board ordered an enquiry to determine whether the rules had been followed.

Discovered when Galileo Galilei turned the first astronomical telescope to the heavens in 1610, the Jovian system has been a focus of scientific inquiry ever since. – Chad Galts, Brown Alumni Monthly, November 1996

There will be a judicial enquiry into the matter.

Citizens have demanded a full enquiry into the government’s handling of the epidemic.

The deluge of phone inquiries after a crash were overwhelming the switchboard.

They were following a definite line of inquiry.

Further inquiry showed that he had visited the city twice before.

The police are pursuing a new line of inquiry.

I’ve been making inquiries into the cost of a round-the-world ticket.

Inquiry into the matter is pointless — no one will tell you anything.

Noun: enquirer
Verb: enquire
Noun: inquirer
Verb: inquire
History of the Word:
Middle English enquere, from the Old French enquerre, is based on the Latin inquirere, which is based on quaerere meaning seek. Middle English enquere (later inquere) is from the Old French enquerre, from a variant of the Latin inquirere, which is based on quaerere meaning seek. The spelling with in- was influenced by Latin and dates from the 15th century.

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C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?