AskDefine | Define inquest

Dictionary Definition

inquest n : an inquiry into the cause of an unexpected death

User Contributed Dictionary



From enqueste (French: enquête), from *inquirere.


  1. a formal investigation, often held before a jury, especially one into the cause of a death
  2. the jury hearing such an enquiry, and the result of the enquiry


investigation into the cause of a death
jury hearing an inquest into the cause of death
result of an inquest into the cause of death

Extensive Definition

In common law jurisdictions that have a coroner system, an inquest is a formal process of state investigation. A common type of inquest is a medical examination of any cause of death under suspicious circumstances. Larger inquests can be held into disasters, or in some jurisdictions (not England & Wales) into cases of corruption.
The inquest, as a means of settling a matter of fact, developed in Scandinavia and the Carolingian Empire before the end of the tenth century. It was the method of gathering the survey data for the Domesday Book in England after the Norman conquest.
In European civil law systems, there is no procedure similar to an inquest.

By jurisdiction

Cultural references


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

analysis, assize, autopsy, blue-ribbon jury, change of venue, coroner, country, court-martial, cross-examination, delving, examination, grand jury, hearing, hung jury, inquirendo, inquiring, inquiring mind, inquiry, inquisition, investigation, jury, jury list, jury of inquest, jury of matrons, jury panel, jury trial, medical examiner, mistrial, mortality committee, necropsy, necroscopy, panel, petit jury, police jury, postmortem, postmortem examination, probe, probing, quest, research, sessions, special jury, trial, trial by jury, trial jury, venire
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