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My interpretation is that sentences like

Check the application output.
Verify the application is running.

have a slightly different meaning.

Are there any differences between "to check", and "to verify"? Are they used in different context, or are they interchangeable?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

The difference in meaning between your two sentences is due not only to the choice of verb.

"Check the application output" would mean to see if there is output and what it is. "Verify (that) the application is running" would mean that you expect the application to be running and you need to make sure that is in fact the case.

If the sentences were identical except for the verb then I agree with Peter that the meaning would be identical. Check would simply sound more casual.

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Are "to verify" and "to check" interchangeable? Could I say "verify the application output"? – kiamlaluno Aug 18 '10 at 16:55
I think this might be the perfect answer: "to verify" is (according to a dictionary) "to confirm or substantiate". So you can check something (examine a property of that thing) but to verify something, you need some assumption that you are confirming or denying. kiamlaluno: If Sobachatina and I are right, you can say "verify the application output", but only if you have some expected value to compare it against. – Gaurav Aug 18 '10 at 18:18
@Gaurav: That is what I thought. What confused me is that I think that you could say "check if the application is running". I would say "verify if the application is running". – kiamlaluno Aug 18 '10 at 18:27
I hope I'm not nitpicking because I don't want to annoy anyone- "verify if the application is running" sounds very awkward. I would say "verify that the application is running". Again "verify" means you already assume it is running. – Sobachatina Aug 19 '10 at 15:41

Verify assumes the thing you're checking has a truth value: "The application is running" is either a true statement or a false statement, so you can say "Verify that the application is running." "The application output", on the other hand, is neither true nor false, so "Verify the application output" doesn't really mean anything, unless you're using "application output" as shorthand for "The application output is correct."

Check, on the other hand, makes no assumptions about what you're looking at. It could be a true/false thing, or it could be a collection of things with no single truth value, such as a quiz with 7 correct answers and 3 incorrect ones.

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to check has many meanings, but one of them is to verify. Unofficially, I think verify sounds more thorough and official, but that will depend on the context.

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One cannot verify something that is not verifiable! For example, one cannot verify an engine is running if it is not. Therefore 'verify' should not be used in the formation of an Instruction such as 'the agent shall verify the adequacy of.....', better the agent should seek to verify....or check the adequacy. If adequacy is established, it can then be said to have been 'verified'. Many contracts contain clauses such that one party or another to is obliged 'verify' something. I.e. The accuracy of survey data or the output of a pump.. One wonders what happens when that something cannot be verified. Comments?

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