Interrogate

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This is one of the 117 mis-spellings listed as 'Common difficulties' in the section on 'Spelling' within 'Writing' in UEfAP.


The verb interrogate, and related words such as interrogation, interrogating interrogative and interrogator have one doubled consonant, the '-r-'. All the other letters are single.

  • 'To interrogate' (and the others) means 'to ask', with some intensification of meaning.
    • Mostly, in general discourse, it means 'to ask persistently and more or less aggressively', as a police detective or a security officer might attempt to draw the truth from a person suspected of wrong-doing. (There is sometimes an implication of torture, and interrogator is sometimes a euphemism for 'torture'.)
    • In computer science, interrogation is,
      • precisely, "the sending of a signal that will initiate a response. A system may interrogate a peripheral to see if it requires a data transfer. The response is normally a status byte. When a number of devices are interrogated in a sequence the process is called polling" (Daintith and Wright, 2008).
      • More loosely, users of computers, such as social scientists, use interrogation to mean 'an attempt to extract useful or structured information from given knowledge [for example a database]'.
    • ?, the punctuation mark known in British English as a question mark is called an interrogation point or interrogation mark in American English.
  • The adjective interrogative means,
    • In the study of grammar, the particular mood of a verb in which the speaker asks a question.
    • In more everyday use, interrogative means 'asking questions', and is often used to indicate non-verbal questioning, as when one person may be described as 'lifting an interrogative eyebrow'. (Quizzical, from 'quiz', has a similar, perhaps more common, use.)
  • As a noun, 'an interrogative' may be
    • in visual signalling and coded texts, an indication that the particular sentence or transmission is a question (Royal Navy signalling flags include a pendant called the interrogative).
Etymological note: interrogate and its relatives are derived from the Latin interrogāre, formed from the prefix inter-, either as a preposition 'between [people]', or an adverb 'at intervals', together with the verb rogāre 'to ask'. So the combined forms such as interrogation have one '-r-' from inter- and one from rogare, which constructs the double '-rr-' of the English spelling.