Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To investigate systematically; examine: explore every possibility.
  • transitive v. To search into or travel in for the purpose of discovery: exploring outer space.
  • transitive v. Medicine To examine for diagnostic purposes.
  • intransitive v. To make a careful examination or search: scientists who have been known to explore in this region of the earth.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To seek for something or after someone.
  • v. To examine or investigate something systematically.
  • v. To travel somewhere in search of discovery.
  • v. To examine diagnostically.
  • v. To (seek) experience first hand.
  • v. To be engaged exploring in any of the above senses.
  • v. To wander without any particular aim or purpose.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To seek for or after; to strive to attain by search; to look wisely and carefully for.
  • transitive v. To search through or into; to penetrate or range over for discovery; to examine thoroughly

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To search for; look for with care and labor; seek after.
  • To search through, examine, or investigate, especially for the purpose of making discoveries in general or for the discovery of some particular thing; hence, to examine or search into with care, for the purpose of ascertaining the appearance, nature, condition, circumstances, etc., of; inquire into; scrutinize; specifically, to traverse or range over (a part or country) for the purpose of geographical discovery: as, Moses sent spies to explore the land of Canaan; to explore a gunshot-wound to find the bullet.
  • Synonyms Scrutinize, etc. See search.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. travel to or penetrate into
  • v. examine minutely
  • v. inquire into
  • v. examine (organs) for diagnostic purposes

Etymologies

Latin explōrāre : ex-, ex- + perhaps plōrāre, to cry out, as to rouse game.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Recorded since c.1450 (implied in explorator), from Latin explorare "investigate, search out", itself said to be originally a hunters' term meaning "set up a loud cry," from ex- "out" + plorare "to cry", but the second element is also explained as "to make to flow" (from pluere "to flow") (Wiktionary)

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