Top 37 Slang For Investigation – Meaning & Usage

When it comes to sleuthing and uncovering the truth, having the right lingo can make all the difference. Join us as we unravel the mysterious world of investigation slang that detectives, journalists, and true crime enthusiasts use to crack the case. From “cold case” to “undercover,” we’ve got you covered with the essential terms that will have you feeling like a seasoned investigator in no time. So grab your magnifying glass and get ready to dive into the fascinating world of investigation slang!

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1. Digging

This term refers to conducting a thorough investigation or research into a particular topic or issue.

  • For example, a journalist might say, “I’ve been digging into this story for weeks and finally found some new information.”
  • A detective might say, “We need to start digging into the suspect’s background to find any possible connections.”
  • A student might say, “I’ve been digging through academic journals to find sources for my research paper.”

2. Snooping

This term refers to secretly investigating or prying into someone else’s private affairs or personal information.

  • For instance, a nosy neighbor might say, “I saw her snooping around in the neighbor’s backyard.”
  • A suspicious partner might say, “I caught him snooping through my phone when I was out.”
  • A journalist might say, “I’m not snooping, I’m just gathering information for my article.”

3. Probing

This term refers to asking detailed and probing questions or conducting a thorough investigation to uncover information or facts.

  • For example, a detective might say, “I spent hours probing the suspect to get to the truth.”
  • A journalist might say, “I’m constantly probing for answers to uncover the real story.”
  • A researcher might say, “Probing deeper into the data revealed unexpected patterns and insights.”

4. Sleuthing

This term refers to investigating or solving a mystery or problem, often with the same level of dedication and attention to detail as a detective.

  • For instance, a true crime enthusiast might say, “I love sleuthing and trying to crack unsolved cases.”
  • A curious individual might say, “I spent the weekend sleuthing to find out who ate the last slice of pizza.”
  • A fan of mystery novels might say, “I enjoy sleuthing along with the detective in the story.”

5. Poking around

This term refers to casually or informally investigating or exploring a particular topic or area.

  • For example, a curious person might say, “I’ve been poking around the internet to find information about that new restaurant.”
  • A journalist might say, “I’m just poking around to see if there’s any truth to the rumors.”
  • A hobbyist might say, “I enjoy poking around antique shops to find hidden treasures.”

6. Delving

This term refers to conducting a thorough investigation or examination of a subject or situation. It implies going beyond surface-level information and delving into the details.

  • For example, a journalist might say, “I spent months delving into the corruption scandal.”
  • A detective might describe their work as, “Delving into the suspect’s background revealed a history of criminal activity.”
  • In a discussion about research methods, someone might ask, “Do you prefer delving into primary sources or relying on secondary research?”

7. Recon

Short for reconnaissance, this term is used to describe the act of gathering information or conducting a preliminary investigation. It often involves observing, surveying, or scouting a specific area or target.

  • For instance, a military officer might say, “We need to send a team on recon to gather intel on enemy positions.”
  • A journalist might explain, “Before writing the article, I did some recon to get a sense of the local community.”
  • In a conversation about surveillance, someone might mention, “Using drones for recon has become increasingly common.”

8. Gumshoeing

This term refers to the investigative work done by a detective or investigator. It implies a methodical and often meticulous approach to solving a case or uncovering information.

  • For example, a detective might say, “I’ve been gumshoeing for years, and I’ve seen it all.”
  • A crime novelist might describe their protagonist as, “A seasoned gumshoe with a knack for solving mysteries.”
  • In a discussion about investigative techniques, someone might ask, “What are the key skills required for successful gumshoeing?”

9. Spy work

This term refers to the covert activities and operations conducted by spies or intelligence agents. It involves gathering confidential or classified information through surveillance, infiltration, or other clandestine methods.

  • For instance, a spy might say, “I’ve been assigned to do some spy work in a foreign country.”
  • A fan of spy novels might say, “I love reading about the thrilling world of spy work.”
  • In a conversation about national security, someone might mention, “Effective spy work is crucial for preventing terrorist attacks.”

10. Scoping out

This term refers to the act of observing or examining a location or situation in order to gather information or assess its potential. It often involves a preliminary assessment before taking further action.

  • For example, a real estate agent might say, “I’m scoping out potential properties for my clients.”
  • A photographer might explain, “Before setting up my equipment, I like to scope out the best angles and lighting.”
  • In a discussion about planning a heist, someone might mention, “We’ll need to scope out the target location to identify potential security measures.”

11. Fact-finding

The term “fact-finding” refers to the process of gathering information and evidence to establish the truth or accuracy of a situation or claim.

  • For example, a journalist might engage in fact-finding to uncover the truth behind a news story.
  • In a legal context, fact-finding can involve interviewing witnesses and examining documents to build a case.
  • A detective might conduct fact-finding to gather evidence and solve a crime.
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12. Undercover work

Undercover work involves conducting operations or investigations while pretending to be someone else, often to gain information or infiltrate a group or organization.

  • For instance, an undercover police officer might pose as a drug dealer to gather evidence against a criminal organization.
  • In espionage, undercover work can involve assuming a false identity to gather intelligence.
  • A journalist might go undercover to expose wrongdoing or gain access to restricted areas.

13. Inquiry

An inquiry refers to a systematic investigation or examination of a matter or issue to gather information and reach a conclusion.

  • For example, a government might launch an inquiry to investigate allegations of corruption.
  • In a scientific context, an inquiry can involve conducting experiments and analyzing data to answer a research question.
  • A journalist might conduct an inquiry to uncover the truth behind a news story.

14. Prodding

Prodding refers to the act of poking or pushing someone or something, often figuratively, to elicit a response or encourage action.

  • For instance, a journalist might prod a reluctant source for information or quotes.
  • In an investigation, prodding can involve asking probing questions to uncover hidden details or motives.
  • A detective might prod a suspect during an interrogation to elicit a confession.

15. Surveillance

Surveillance involves the monitoring and observation of people, places, or activities, often in a covert or discreet manner, for the purpose of gathering information or maintaining security.

  • For example, law enforcement agencies might conduct surveillance on suspected criminals or locations.
  • In a corporate setting, surveillance can involve monitoring employees to prevent theft or ensure compliance with company policies.
  • A private investigator might conduct surveillance to gather evidence in a divorce or custody case.

16. Scrutiny

This term refers to a thorough and careful examination or investigation of something or someone. It often implies a critical or detailed analysis.

  • For example, “The company’s financial records are under scrutiny by the auditors.”
  • In a political context, one might say, “The candidate’s past actions are facing intense scrutiny.”
  • A journalist might write, “The government’s handling of the crisis is under scrutiny from the public.”

17. Stakeout

A stakeout involves secretly observing a location or person, typically for the purpose of gathering information or catching someone in the act. It often involves law enforcement or private investigators.

  • For instance, “The police set up a stakeout to catch the suspected drug dealer.”
  • In a detective novel, the protagonist might say, “I spent hours on a stakeout, waiting for the suspect to appear.”
  • A crime show might feature a scene where detectives discuss their plan for a stakeout.

18. Eavesdropping

Eavesdropping refers to the act of secretly listening to a conversation or private communication without the knowledge or consent of the people involved. It is often considered unethical or intrusive.

  • For example, “She overheard her coworkers gossiping about her by eavesdropping on their conversation.”
  • In a spy movie, a character might say, “I managed to gather valuable information by eavesdropping on the enemy.”
  • A parent might warn their child, “It’s not polite to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations.”

19. Interrogation

Interrogation is the act of questioning someone, often in a formal or intense manner, to obtain information or uncover the truth. It is commonly associated with police investigations or intelligence gathering.

  • For instance, “The suspect was subjected to hours of intense interrogation by the detectives.”
  • In a crime drama, a detective might say, “We need to bring him in for interrogation to see if he knows anything.”
  • A military officer might conduct an interrogation of a captured enemy soldier.
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20. Shadowing

Shadowing refers to the act of closely following or monitoring someone, typically without their knowledge, to gather information or observe their activities. It is often used in surveillance or intelligence operations.

  • For example, “The private investigator was shadowing the cheating spouse to gather evidence.”
  • In a spy novel, a character might say, “I spent days shadowing the enemy agent to uncover their secret plans.”
  • A security officer might report, “We have reason to believe that someone is shadowing our CEO.”

21. Researching

This term refers to the act of conducting a systematic investigation or study to obtain new knowledge or information. It can involve gathering data, analyzing sources, and drawing conclusions.

  • For example, a student might say, “I’m researching the effects of climate change on marine life.”
  • A journalist might mention, “I spent months researching the history of this town for my article.”
  • In a scientific context, a researcher might explain, “We are currently researching potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.”

22. Checking out

This phrase is used to describe the act of inspecting or observing something or someone closely. It can involve assessing the details, verifying information, or evaluating a situation.

  • For instance, a detective might say, “We’re checking out the crime scene for any clues.”
  • A shopper might comment, “I’m just checking out the prices before making a decision.”
  • In a social context, someone might say, “I saw a cute guy at the party, so I’m going to check him out.”

23. Hunting down

This expression is used to describe the process of actively searching for something or someone. It can involve pursuing leads, following trails, or conducting a thorough investigation.

  • For example, a private investigator might say, “I’m hunting down a missing person.”
  • A journalist might mention, “I’m hunting down the truth behind this scandal.”
  • In a competitive context, someone might say, “I’m hunting down the top spot in the rankings.”

24. Exploring

This term refers to the act of investigating or examining something in depth. It can involve discovering new information, uncovering hidden aspects, or gaining a deeper understanding.

  • For instance, a scientist might say, “We’re exploring the effects of a new drug on cancer cells.”
  • A traveler might comment, “I love exploring different cultures and traditions.”
  • In a literary context, an author might explain, “My novel explores themes of identity and belonging.”

25. Scrutinizing

This word is used to describe the act of examining or analyzing something with great attention to detail. It can involve observing carefully, questioning assumptions, or critically evaluating.

  • For example, a detective might say, “We’re scrutinizing the evidence for any inconsistencies.”
  • A teacher might mention, “I’m scrutinizing the students’ essays for grammatical errors.”
  • In a business context, someone might say, “We’re scrutinizing the financial statements to identify any irregularities.”

26. Peeking

This term refers to discreetly looking at or observing something or someone without being noticed. It often implies a sense of curiosity or nosiness.

  • For example, “I couldn’t resist peeking at the surprise party decorations before the big reveal.”
  • In a conversation about privacy, someone might say, “Peeking into someone’s personal messages is a violation of their trust.”
  • A person discussing detective work might mention, “Sometimes, peeking through a keyhole can provide valuable clues.”

27. Prying

To pry means to inquire or investigate into someone’s personal affairs or private matters without their consent. It implies being overly curious and intrusive.

  • For instance, “Stop prying into my personal life, it’s none of your business!”
  • In a discussion about respecting boundaries, someone might say, “It’s important to respect others’ privacy and avoid prying.”
  • A person might confess, “I couldn’t help prying into my neighbor’s gossip when I overheard them talking loudly.”

28. Uncovering

This term refers to the act of revealing or finding out information or facts that were previously unknown or hidden. It implies a process of investigation and exploration.

  • For example, “The journalist spent months uncovering the corruption scandal.”
  • In a conversation about historical research, someone might say, “Uncovering the truth about past events can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor.”
  • A detective might say, “Our team is dedicated to uncovering the truth behind every case we investigate.”

29. Ferreting out

To ferret out means to search for or discover something by persistent and thorough investigation. It implies a determined effort to uncover hidden information or secrets.

  • For instance, “The journalist was able to ferret out the truth behind the politician’s shady dealings.”
  • In a discussion about detective work, someone might say, “Ferreting out the real culprit requires careful analysis of the evidence.”
  • A person might exclaim, “I’m determined to ferret out the source of these mysterious rumors!”

30. Tracing

Tracing refers to the act of tracking or following the path or history of something or someone. It often involves investigating and piecing together information to uncover the origin or whereabouts.

  • For example, “The detective spent hours tracing the steps of the suspect to build a solid case.”
  • In a conversation about genealogy, someone might say, “Tracing your family tree can reveal fascinating stories and connections.”
  • A person might ask, “Can you help me trace the origins of this antique artifact?”

31. Unearthing

The term “unearthing” refers to the act of uncovering or discovering information or evidence, especially in the context of an investigation. It implies digging deeper and finding hidden or previously unknown facts.

  • For example, a journalist might say, “Through extensive research, I was able to unearth new evidence in the case.”
  • In a crime investigation, a detective might say, “Our team is dedicated to unearthing the truth and bringing justice to the victims.”
  • A historian might use the term to describe finding rare documents or artifacts, saying, “The unearthing of this ancient manuscript sheds new light on our understanding of the past.”

32. Inquiring

The term “inquiring” refers to the act of asking questions or seeking information, often as part of an investigation. It implies a curious and investigative mindset, actively seeking answers and gathering relevant details.

  • For instance, a detective might say, “We are inquiring into the whereabouts of the suspect during the time of the crime.”
  • A journalist might use the term to describe their work, saying, “I spent hours inquiring about the company’s financial practices.”
  • In a legal context, an attorney might say, “I will be inquiring about the witness’s credibility during cross-examination.”

33. Proving

The term “proving” refers to the act of demonstrating or establishing the truth or validity of something, especially in the context of an investigation. It involves presenting evidence or arguments to support a claim or hypothesis.

  • For example, a scientist might say, “Our experiments are aimed at proving the effectiveness of this new drug.”
  • In a court trial, an attorney might say, “The prosecution will present evidence proving the defendant’s guilt.”
  • A journalist might use the term when reporting on a scandal, saying, “New documents have emerged, proving the politician’s involvement in the corruption scheme.”

34. Pursuing

The term “pursuing” refers to the act of actively seeking or following a course of action, often in the context of an investigation. It implies a determined and persistent effort to achieve a goal or obtain information.

  • For instance, a detective might say, “We are pursuing leads to identify the suspect.”
  • A journalist might use the term to describe their investigation, saying, “I am pursuing the truth behind this controversial story.”
  • In a corporate setting, a compliance officer might say, “We are pursuing allegations of fraud within the company.”

35. Spying

The term “spying” refers to the act of secretly observing or monitoring someone or something, often for the purpose of gathering information. It implies covert or undercover activities in an investigation.

  • For example, a spy might say, “I have been spying on the enemy’s headquarters to gather intelligence.”
  • In a political context, one might accuse another of spying, saying, “There are allegations of foreign agents spying on our government.”
  • A journalist might use the term to describe investigative reporting, saying, “We are uncovering the truth by spying on corrupt officials.”

36. Interrogating

This refers to the act of asking someone a series of questions in order to obtain information or gather evidence. Interrogating is often associated with formal investigations or law enforcement procedures.

  • For example, a detective might say, “We need to interrogate the suspect to get more details about the crime.”
  • In a police procedural TV show, a character might ask, “Have you finished interrogating the witness?”
  • During a trial, a lawyer might say, “I will now begin interrogating the defendant on the stand.”

37. Tracking

This refers to the act of following the movements or activities of someone or something in order to gather information or monitor their actions. Tracking is often used in investigations to gather evidence or locate a person or object.

  • For instance, a private investigator might say, “I’ve been tracking the suspect’s movements for the past week.”
  • In a spy novel, a character might be tasked with tracking down a stolen artifact.
  • A detective might use tracking techniques to locate a missing person.
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