I recently heard someone say that they had left no stone unturned in their search for information, meaning that they had done everything they possibly could to find it. I started thinking about the concept of trying to find out facts and the various words and phrases that we use to convey it. This post is the result of these musings.
Police are investigating the incident.
A law firm has been hired to look into the matter.
If you consult a professional person or book, etc. with information on a particular subject, you get information from them:
I decided to consult a doctor/lawyer.
If only she’d consulted a dictionary.
Some near-synonyms convey the sense of trying to find out about facts which are hidden. For example, if you probe, you ask someone lots of questions in order to discover secret or private information: If you dig or dig around, you try to discover information about someone by asking other people or examining different sources.
She intimated that she had been depressed and I didn’t like to probe any deeper.
I wanted to know where his money had come from, so I started doing a bit of digging.
Journalists had apparently been snooping around, asking questions of friends of the prince.
I don’t want her nosing around in my office, looking at all my private papers.
If you pump someone for information, you attempt to get information from them, sometimes in a slightly dishonest way: Lena was pumping me for gossip about Daniel’s new girlfriend.
There are some other nice phrasal verbs in this area. For example, if you delve into a subject, you examine it carefully in order to discover information:
In tonight’s programme, he delves into the murky world of political donations.
If you sift through something, especially documents or evidence, you examine it all in order to find relevant and useful information:
We are currently sifting through paperwork and other evidence.
If you follow up a piece of information, you try to find out more about it:
I was quite intrigued by the story and thought I’d follow it up.
Police were following up a lead that his attacker had got off a train at the same time.
A related post – to follow – will consider words for successfully finding information.