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
      (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]
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