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He pulls from his pocket the single sock that he has broght along. He bunches it into a ball and sticks it into his mouth ... He lowers himself one more step (down the cellar stairs), seven to go ... one more ... one more ... one more ... his silent scream probes for a weakness in the sock ...

HI,

Does the bolded part in the above mean "his silent scream detects a soft spot in the sock?" Thanks.
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"probes for" means "tries to find (by probing)", not "detects".

"a weakness in the sock" means a deficiency in the sock's muffling capability -- anything that would allow a scream to escape.
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Mr Wordy"probes for" means "tries to find (by probing)", not "detects".

"a weakness in the sock" means a deficiency in the sock's muffling capability -- anything that would allow a scream to escape.

Thanks, Mr Wordy.

To make sure, does "tries to detect a weakness" equal "tries to find a weakness?" For me, there are almost the same. If there are differences, what are they? Thanks.

AngliholicTo make sure, does "tries to detect a weakness" equal "tries to find a weakness?" For me, there are almost the same. If there are differences, what are they?


In this context, "find" and "detect" mean very much the same thing. The words aren't exact synonyms though, nor always interchangeable. "detect" is more technical-sounding and is typically used when some investigative effort is involved in seeking out and discovering something (think of "detective"). For example: "After conducting a search, the police detected and disarmed the device." "detect" is not usually used for chance finds. For example: "I was rooting around in my desk drawer and I found [not detected] an old sovereign".

"detect" is also used to emphasise the use of the senses or some other aspect of mental perception. For example: "I detected a faint smell of petrol"; "I detected a note of sarcasm".