1. an inquiry into the cause of an unexpected death
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.
The laborious and vexatious inquest that the soul
must make after science. --South.
(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.
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.
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
n 1: an inquiry into the cause of an unexpected death
Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0:
46 Moby Thesaurus words for "inquest":
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
Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856):
INQUEST. A body of men appointed by law to inquire into certain matters; as,
the inquest examined into the facts connected with the alleged murder; the
grand jury, is sometimes called the grand inquest. The judicial inquiry
itself is also called an inquest. The finding of such men, upon an
investigation, is also called an inquest or an inquisition.
2. An inquest of office was bound to find for the king upon the
direction of the court. The reason given is that the inquest concluded no
man of his right, but only gave the king an opportunity to enter so that he
could have his right tried. Moore, 730; Vaughan, 135; 3 H. VII. 10; 2 H. IV.
5; 3 Leon. 196.