\ˈklü \

Definition of clue 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that guides through an intricate procedure or maze of difficulties specifically : a piece of evidence that leads one toward the solution of a problem

2 : idea, notion had no clue what he meant


clued; clueing or cluing

Definition of clue (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to provide with a clue

2 : to give reliable information to he clued me in on how it happened

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Did You Know?

The word clue was originally a variant spelling of clew, meaning “ball of thread or yarn.” Our modern sense of clue, “guide to the solution of a mystery,” grows out of a motif in myth and folklore, the ball of thread that helps in finding one’s way out of a maze. Of these stories the best known is the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. In the myth, Theseus unravels a ball of thread as he searches for the monstrous Minotaur in the Labyrinth. After killing the Minotaur, he retraces his steps out of the maze by rewinding the thread.

Examples of clue in a Sentence


The book gives the reader plenty of clues to solve the mystery. Science gives us clues about the origin of the universe. “Guess who I met today.” “Can you give me a clue?” It gives a clue as to how to proceed.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Now, a study that used their gifts is giving some clues. Washington Post, "Late-life high blood pressure may harm the brain, study says," 11 July 2018 Euan’s Instagram gave the world some clues, though. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Ex-USMNT player Stu Holden provides incredible twist to Twitter's best love story," 4 July 2018 Star clusters give scientists important clues to help them understand the origin of massive stars, the space agency said. Erin Kelly, USA TODAY, "NASA releases image of 'celestial fireworks' in honor of Independence Day," 4 July 2018 The minutes are also expected to give clues as to whether the Fed will raise interest rates one or two more times this year. New York Times, "Automakers Report June Sales and China Tariffs Will Take Effect," 1 July 2018 But his words and actions on Twitter and in court are giving police important clues about what may have prompted the shooting. Jeff Pegues, CBS News, "Annapolis shooting suspect not cooperating with detectives," 29 June 2018 Visceral fat, also known as 'bad' fat is what surrounds internal organs, is also showed in the scan and give diagnostic clues to doctors about patients. Nicole Aimone, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "DXA scanners offer patients a more complete look at bone, fat and muscle mass, especially for weight loss," 20 June 2018 Both nations had competed in three penalty shootouts in previous World Cups and had won every time, so something would have to give, though history did give a clue as to the likely outcome., "World Cup Countdown: 1 Day to Go - What if Juan Roman Riquelme Hadn’t Been Substituted?," 13 June 2018 Seeing a professional not only gives you a clue of what’s going on, but also access to treatments and things like antibiotics that have a better chance of getting rid of those zits — or, at least, making your breakouts more manageable. Megan Mcintyre, Teen Vogue, "Lessons From Having Acne for 20 Years," 11 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Lips have graduated from acquired taste to legit big-time band, and the live shows are always something to see, in case the above picture hadn’t already clued you in to the band’s visual majesty. Kevin Williams,, "Flaming Lips part of a tasty, noisy early Taste of Chicago peek," 1 May 2018 One of his instructors was a potter, who clued him into the craft. Cassie Owens,, "Throwing down: How this potter from Kensington found fine art success," 26 June 2018 And while visiting Riverdale might seem glamorous — if slightly macabre, given the murders and intrigue that occur in the not-so-quaint town, Camila also clued everyone in to the effects of having to wear heavy makeup on set. Leah Prinzivalli, Teen Vogue, "Camila Mendes Reveals Her Favorite Eyebrow Products," 19 June 2018 Prince Louis's royal christening occurred behind closed chapel doors today, but there is one special aspect of the ceremony the public got clued in on. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The Royal Family Flew in Special Water for Prince Louis's Christening Today," 10 July 2018 What led you to suspect that there was lead in the water of Flint, Mich.? I was clued in by a high school girlfriend–a drinking-water expert–over a glass of wine at a barbecue at my house. Belinda Luscombe, Time, "The Doctor Who Discovered Lead in Flint's Water on What Went Wrong and How to Fix It," 28 June 2018 Using the search engine’s algorithms along with intel from local experts, Explore will clue you into the best places to hit according to category—whether that’s brunch, sandwiches, or rooftop cocktails. Marie Salcido, Sunset, "Google Maps’ Latest Features Make It the Ultimate Local Travel Resource," 22 Jan. 2018 Uresti was never involved in FourWinds’ day-to-day operations and therefore was not clued into Bates’ actions, the document added. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, "Prosecutors want Uresti to serve at least 17½ years in prison," 25 June 2018 Presumably, if the measure passes and the sale process proceeds — and before anybody signs anything — there will be public hearings, negotiations, due diligence and all that, with the public clued in each step of the way. Paul Jenkins, Anchorage Daily News, "The ML&P sale could be great for Anchorage, but the process should be more open," 3 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clue.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of clue


circa 1665, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1934, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for clue


alteration of clew

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Learn More about clue

Dictionary Entries near clue





clued up

clue in


Phrases Related to clue

clue in

clued up

don't have a clue

Statistics for clue

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for clue

The first known use of clue was circa 1665

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More Definitions for clue



English Language Learners Definition of clue

: something that helps a person find something, understand something, or solve a mystery or puzzle

: an understanding of something : knowledge about something


\ˈklü \

Kids Definition of clue

: something that helps a person to find something or to solve a mystery

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Comments on clue

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