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[delv] /dɛlv/
verb (used without object), delved, delving.
to carry on intensive and thorough research for data, information, or the like; investigate:
to delve into the issue of prison reform.
Archaic. to dig, as with a spade.
verb (used with object), delved, delving.
Archaic. to dig; excavate.
Origin of delve
before 900; Middle English delven, Old English delfan; cognate with Dutch delven, Old High German telban
Related forms
delver, noun
undelved, adjective
1. research, inquire, probe, examine, explore. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for delver
Historical Examples
  • Idler on its modern surface, or delver in its deep-hearted past, could he reconcile himself to it?

    Indian Summer William D. Howells
  • It has been the delver of its own channel through the barrier of the Kirchet.

  • Any comparison between the material comfort of a Kentucky slave and an English ditcher and delver would be preposterous.

  • Frost was the agent, ice was his delver, water his carrier, and the basin of Lake Ontario his dumping-ground.

  • At this point the farmer slipped, the hedge rustled, and the delver fled away.

  • He is brave and good, while you––you are a spy, an eavesdropper, a delver into the private affairs of others.

    The Crevice William John Burns and Isabel Ostrander
  • I speak only as a delver into the secrets of other men; and if I seem arrogant, it is due to the influence of the company I keep.

    Short Story Writing Charles Raymond Barrett
British Dictionary definitions for delver


verb (mainly intransitive; often foll by in or into)
to inquire or research deeply or intensively (for information, etc): he delved in the Bible for quotations
to search or rummage (in a drawer, the pockets, etc)
(esp of an animal) to dig or burrow deeply (into the ground, etc)
(also transitive) (archaic or dialect) to dig or turn up (earth, a garden, etc), as with a spade
Derived Forms
delver, noun
Word Origin
Old English delfan; related to Old High German telban to dig, Russian dolbit to hollow out with a chisel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for delver



Old English delfan "to dig" (class III strong verb; past tense dealf, past participle dolfen), common West Germanic verb (cf. Old Saxon delban, Dutch delven, Middle High German telben "to dig"), from PIE root *dhelbh- (cf. Lithuanian delba "crowbar," Russian dolbit', Czech dlabati, Polish dłubać "to chisel;" Russian dolotó, Czech dlato, Polish dłuto "chisel"). Weak inflections emerged 14c.-16c. Related: Delved; delving.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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