seek

seek, *search, scour, hunt, comb, ferret out, ransack, rummage are comparable when they mean to look for or go in quest of in the hope of finding.
Seek has become widely extended in application and may take as its object either a person or a concrete thing or something intangible or abstract and may imply either a quest that involves great effort or one that makes slight demands; the term is more often used in the written than the spoken language
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they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him— Lk 2:44-45

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seek the truth

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a small sadistic streak that caused me to seek a more subtle and painful punishment for my victim— Dahl

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wisdom must be sought for its own sake or we shall not find it— Inge

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Search implies both effort and thoroughness. It differs from seek especially in taking as its object the place in which or the person on whom something is sought; it therefore connotes an investigating, an exploring, a penetrating scrutinizing, or a careful examining
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search every section of the country for spies

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search the house from top to bottom for a lost ring

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I have searched every nook and cranny

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search all the persons present when the money disappeared

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searched his memory for a name

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the book was edited in a way no editor could ever have time or love to find; it was searched sentence by sentence, word for word— Mailer

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Scour, which means in general to run over or to traverse swiftly especially in pursuit or in search, can be used more narrowly to mean to make an exhaustive search of a territory or of something comparable to a territory for a thing that must be found
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scour the coast for lurking submarines

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scour the neighborhood for the missing child

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the next morning Archer scoured the town in vain for more yellow roses— Wharton

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scoured the coppices and woods and old quarries, so long as a blackberry was to be found— D. H. Lawrence

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Hunt basically comes close to scour in its general sense for it implies a pursuit of and often a search for something, but especially game. In the extended sense in which the term is here considered it implies specifically a vigorous and, often, unavailing search for something as elusive as game
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they hunted till darkness came on, but they found not a button, or feather, or mark— Lewis Carroll

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hunt evidence far and wide

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I've hunted for the lost papers everywhere but I can't find them

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in ... hunting up earlier quotations for recent words— Murray

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Comb implies methods of searching as painstaking or thoroughgoing as those involved in going through the hair with a fine comb
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comb the countryside for the escaped convicts

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comb the factories for more men for the army

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the Pacific Ocean between San Francisco and Hawaii is being combed today by aircraft and shipping for signs of the two planes— Morning Post

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Ferret out stresses the finding of something that is difficult to get at and usually suggests a vigorous, arduous, persistent and, often, tricky method of search
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ferret out a secret

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one of the professor's specialties being to ferret out captured . . . political commissars for execution— Shirer

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I have ferreted out evidence— Dickens

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Ransack and rummage imply a search usually of a limited area; both tend to stress the manner of going through what is examined and suggest a haphazard and often disorderly or heedless pulling about and turning over of miscellaneous items. Though the two are often interchangeable, ransack is especially appropriate when one wishes to stress careless haste, lack of regard for the rights of others, or improper motives on the part of the searcher, while rummage may be chosen when a more neutral word is needed or when lack of a definite object of search is to be implied; thus, a thoughtless child might ransack the refrigerator to make himself a snack and then go rummage through his toys after a lost ball; a thief ransacks a house in search of loot, but rummages through a drawer with no clear and specific notion of what he may find
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pass a rainy day rummaging about in the attic

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the men ransacked the thatched huts, rummaged among the pots, the fishing gear, the shell ornaments— M. S. Douglas

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apparently unlimited search, such as ransacking parts of an office can never be justified— Paul Wilson

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ransacked his father's shelves, dipped into a multitude of books— Macaulay

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stooped and deliberately rummaged in the dust at his feet, as if searching for the squirming threads of death it might contain— Wylie

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the impatience with which a community without tradition rummages through ways of life which other peoples, other cities have worked out for themselves slowly and painfully— Gordimer

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Analogous words: inquire, question, *ask, interrogate: pursue, chase, *follow, trail

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • seek — [ sik ] (past tense and past participle sought [ sɔt ] ) verb transitive *** 1. ) FORMAL to ask for something or try to get something: seek advice/help: Seek medical advice if symptoms last more than a week. seek permission/approval: You must… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • seek — W1 [si:k] v past tense and past participle sought [so:t US so:t] [T] [: Old English; Origin: secan] 1.) formal to try to achieve or get something ▪ Do you think the President will seek re election ? seek refuge/asylum/shelter etc ▪ Thousands of… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Seek — Seek, v. i. To make search or inquiry; to endeavor to make discovery. [1913 Webster] Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read. Isa. xxxiv. 16. [1913 Webster] {To seek}, needing to seek or search; hence, unprepared. Unpracticed, unprepared,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • seek — /seek/, v., sought, seeking. v.t. 1. to go in search or quest of: to seek the truth. 2. to try to find or discover by searching or questioning: to seek the solution to a problem. 3. to try to obtain: to seek fame. 4. to try or attempt (usually… …   Universalium

  • seek — [siːk] verb sought PTandPP [sɔːt ǁ sɒːt] [transitive] to try to get or achieve something: • Even while takeover talks were in progress, the company sought other potential buyers. • Benefit claimants are asked to prove they are actively seeking… …   Financial and business terms

  • Seek — Seek, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Sought}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Seeking}.] [OE. seken, AS. s[=e]can, s[=e]cean; akin to OS. s[=o]kian, LG. s[ o]ken, D. zoeken, OHG. suohhan, G. suchen, Icel. s[ae]kja, Sw. s[ o]ka, Dan. s[ o]ge, Goth. s[=o]kjan, and E. sake …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Seek — may refer to: * Disk seek, in which the read head of a magnetic disk repositions itself. * Seek Limited, an Australian internet job recruitment companyee also* Zero seek * Rent seeking * Job seeking * Goal seeking * * Hide and Seek… …   Wikipedia

  • seek — [sēk] vt. sought, seeking [ME seken < OE secan, akin to OS sōkian, Ger suchen, ON sœkja < IE base * sāg , to track down, trace > L sagire, to scent out, perceive] 1. to try to find; search for; look for 2. to go to; resort to [to seek… …   English World dictionary

  • seek — seek; seek·er; seek·er·ism; seek·ing·ly; …   English syllables

  • seek — [v1] look for be after, beat the bushes*, bird dog*, bob for, cast about, chase, comb, delve, delve for, dig for, dragnet, explore, fan, ferret out, fish, fish for*, follow, go after, gun for*, hunt, inquire, investigate, leave no stone unturned* …   New thesaurus

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