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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Inquest \In"quest\, n. [OE. enqueste, OF. enqueste, F. enqu[^e]te, LL. inquesta, for inquisita, fr. L. inquisitus, p. p. of inquirere. See Inquire.] 1. Inquiry; quest; search. [R.] --Spenser. [1913 Webster] The laborious and vexatious inquest that the soul must make after science. --South. [1913 Webster] 2. (Law) (a) Judicial inquiry; official examination, esp. before a jury; as, a coroner's inquest in case of a sudden death. (b) A body of men assembled under authority of law to inquire into any matter, civil or criminal, particularly any case of violent or sudden death; a jury, particularly a coroner's jury. The grand jury is sometimes called the grand inquest. See under Grand. (c) The finding of the jury upon such inquiry. [1913 Webster] Coroner's inquest, an inquest held by a coroner to determine the cause of any violent, sudden, or mysterious death. See Coroner. Inquest of office, an inquiry made, by authority or direction of proper officer, into matters affecting the rights and interests of the crown or of the state. --Craig. Bouvier. [1913 Webster]