Inquiring Minds Want to Know – Meaning, Origin & Examples

What is it they say about curiosity? Something to do with killing cats, right?

Well, we’re not cats, so a bit of curiosity can’t do us too much harm. Plus, isn’t it so much fun to have your curiosity satisfied?

Inquiring Minds Want To Know – Meaning

“Inquiring minds want to know” is a phrase that requests more information and often precedes or follows a question. It’s stating that there are people out there who are interested because of their curiosity and desire to learn new things. “Enquiring minds want to know” is an acceptable variant.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know - Meaning

This colloquial phrase is used to emphasize a question (or inquiry) that someone is making. The Cambridge Dictionary defines inquiring as:

  • (of someone’s behavior) always wanting to learn new things, or (of someone’s expression) wanting to know something. In this phrase, it’s being used in the first sense.

It notes that “enquiring” is a variant spelling, particularly used in the UK.

“Inquiring minds want to know” isn’t always attached to a question. It might be used as a response when someone else challenges the speaker’s motivation for pursuing a bit of information.

While it’s not originally a film quote, this phrase has had several brushes with fame. It’s made appearances in TV shows including Buffy the Vampire Slayer and classic films like The Lost Boys.

How to Use “Inquiring Minds Want To Know” in a Sentence

Let’s look at some examples of how to use “inquiring minds want to know” in a sentence:

  • Inquiring minds want to know; does everyone hate me or is it all in my head?
  • Now that you’re in power, how are you going to manage the cost-of-living crisis? Inquiring minds want to know.
  • Inquiring minds want to know – what is love? 
  • The aim of this magazine is to provide all the bits of gossip and useless trivia that inquiring minds want to know.

Inquiring Minds Want To Know – Origin

We might not know exactly who said “inquiring minds want to know” first, but we do know where it has come from.

The National Enquirer is an American tabloid magazine that publishes gossipy news about day-to-day topics and celebrity lives. It’s been running since the 1920s but copyrighted the slogan “enquiring minds want to know” in the 1980s. 

Note that that’s “enquiring”, not “inquiring”. As we previously mentioned, these are two variant spellings of the same word. Either is acceptable to use.

“Enquiring minds want to know” appeared frequently in some extremely cheesy 80s TV adverts for the magazine. It then caught on and began to spread through popular culture, becoming a bit of a trope that’s associated with shock-value headlines and articles.

Inquiring or Enquiring Minds Want to Know?

The more popular variant of the phrase is now “inquiring minds want to know”, despite the phrase originating from The National Enquirer as “enquiring minds want to know”. 

This is because The National Enquirer actually copyrighted the slogan “enquiring minds want to know”, preventing other organizations and writers from using it. So greedy.

Fortunately, the variant spelling “inquiring” already existed. This meant that people could continue to use the phrase without altering its meaning and without fear of The National Enquirer. 

So, whether you’re seeing “enquiring” or “inquiring”, the meaning is the same. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Inquiring minds want to know, when will the screaming stop?
  • Enquiring minds want to know, when will the screaming stop?
  • Inquiring minds want to know; oh god why won’t it stop?
  • Enquiring minds want to know; oh god why won’t it stop?

Inquiring Minds Want To Know – Similar Quotes

There’s one perfect synonym for “inquiring minds want to know”:

  • Enquiring minds want to know.

Otherwise, there are no phrases that match up with it exactly, but we’ve gathered some that have a similar meaning:

  • Curious minds want to know
  • For curiosity’s sake
  • Spill the beans
  • Satisfy my curiosity 
  • Inquisitive minds want to know
  • Dish the dirt

Phrases That Mean the Opposite of “Inquiring Minds Want To Know”

There’s not an established phrase that means the exact opposite of “inquiring minds want to know”. That would be:

  • Incurious minds don’t want to know

But it hasn’t caught on yet.

Here are a few phrases that ask or tell someone not to share information:

  • Keep your lips sealed
  • Keep it under your hat
  • Sweep it under the rug
  • Bite your tongue
  • Keep mum

In What Situations Can You Use “Inquiring Minds Want To Know”?

You can use the phrase “inquiring minds want to know” as an addition to a question that you’re asking or as an explanation for why you’re asking a question.

You can especially use it if you’re writing some kind of shocking expose about celebrity baby names.