From the Da Vinci Code:

"Fache will run my phone and e-mail records."

The characters: Fache is a policeman, the speaker is an outlaw.

What's the meaning of "run" here? Does it mean "look through"? I didn't find relevant examples or meanings in the dictionary.

  • 1
    I think "run" in this context means "check, by running through a database and looking for matches." Because database searches are relatively new, this meaning may not have worked its way into some established dictionaries yet.
    – J.R.
    Jun 26, 2014 at 20:28

3 Answers 3


You are actually correct, "run" does mean to "look through". In the case of your question, here run pertains to "Search". If you are a fan of crime dramas eg : CSI, Numbers, NCIS or any crime drama that demonstrates extensive use of modern technology you might come across phrases like

"Run it through the Facial Recognition" or "Run the fingerprint through the Database". These phrases imply that the person is going to search through a list/collection for something for some purpose.

"Fache will run my phone and e-mail records." says that Fache will go through the person's phone and email records in search of something and try to find it.

But I guess some explanation is in order regarding the usage of "run" in this context.

run through something (The Free Dictionary.com) - to go through a procedure or sequence; to rehearse a procedure or sequence.

walk through (Merriam Webster.com) - the act of going slowly through the steps of a process.

Hmm, run through and walk-through sound similar right? In fact they are very similar in meaning, the only difference is, run through indirectly implies you are short of time to accomplish a task or you are doing the "going through" very quickly. Walk-through indirectly implies that the job is being done slow and more thorough. You can actually interchange "run through" and "walk through" in many cases.

So usually "run through" or it's shortened counterpart "run" means to do a quick search and/or comparison.

Example time :

Can you please run the document for grammatical errors.

Can you run through this article and mark all the references to "football" and "bite".

Run through this list and make sure I have all the ingredients.

Run this phone number through our database and find the owner, He will pay for stealing my candy!!

....and a lot more of "search", "find", "compare", "spot" stuff.. but these are typical cases where "run through" can be used.

There is another usage for run as in "run it by" meaning "to consult" or "to inform"

Example time :

Run it by me before you submit the letter.

If you know who the boss is going to fire, please run the list by me.

Yup, "run it by" is also used often.

  • Thank you for references to other relevant phrases about "run"! Now I have a better understanding of the phrase.
    – Searene
    Jun 26, 2014 at 15:51
  • You are always welcome.
    Jun 26, 2014 at 15:57
  • There should be no blank spaces between quote marks and the quoted material. In other words.........: "correct" / " incorrect " / "incorrect " / " incorrect".
    – J.R.
    Jun 26, 2014 at 20:29

Run here means to put your data, phone number, emails, etc. through a central system in order to ascertain your identity and gather any other information on you. Basically, it's short for "running something through the system."

You must be reading the Davinci Code :)

  • It can also mean to put a request into a system to obtain phone and email records. Same connotation as here, it's just done in order to get the records versus doing something with the records.
    – Roger
    Jun 26, 2014 at 13:22

Out of several meanings, in this context, I think run means to operate.

The policeman will operate the phone and an email to get information about the outlaw. In that sense, you guessed it correctly - the phone and email will be checked or looked through.

In the OALD, definition #10 is close. The transitive use of the verb run.


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