\ ˈklü How to pronounce clue (audio) \

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

Noun 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 What was later revealed about Hernandez, the abuse in his childhood, his growing paranoia, the bodyguards, his drug use, and the brain damage all became clues to what led him to kill. NBC News, "Aaron Hernandez Netflix documentary looks at how he became a killer," 15 Jan. 2020 The relative moisture of a rooted area is a clue to its age, but hogs roam far while feeding. The Editors, Field & Stream, "Everything You Need to Know About Hog Hunting," 13 Jan. 2020 When asked if Las Vegas has any indication or suspicion that the cyberattack might be connected to Iran, Riggleman reiterated that the city does not know who was responsible but said the city is looking for potential clues to the culprit. Washington Post, "Las Vegas says no data stolen in cyber attack on city system," 8 Jan. 2020 Again, the clues to this celebrity's identity are limited at this point. Leah Rocketto, Woman's Day, "Who Is The Pink Monster On 'The Masked Singer'? Fans Are Already Guessing," 3 Jan. 2020 Justin Bieber might just be a walking human clue for his upcoming album. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Justin Bieber’s Latest Tattoo Might Be a Hint of His New Album Title," 3 Jan. 2020 The sneak peek reportedly gave a few more clues to the upcoming film but fans will likely have to head to theaters July 17, 2020, to get all the answers. Essence, "John David Washington Faces A Mysterious Threat In New 'Tenet' Trailer," 20 Dec. 2019 Roughly, Shiva is here at once seen creating and destroying existence; offering the escape hatch from this constant chaos; and, finally, revealing the clue to that escape hatch, which is to subdue ignorance. Harish Pullanoor, Quartz India, "How the Indian icon Nataraja danced his way from ancient history to modern physics," 18 Dec. 2019 But perhaps, in some ship’s manifest or census record waiting to be digitized and connected, there lies a clue to the fate of this ordinary man who made a life for himself against all odds. Amy Crawford, Smithsonian, "A Massive New Database Will Connect Billions of Historic Records to Tell the Full Story of American Slavery," 18 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But naming a ‘favorite’ child could help parents in terms of security — a hacker trying to get into your account is unlikely to be clued into unspoken family dynamics. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "This New JetBlue Security Question Is Proving Almost Impossible to Answer. Or Is It?," 20 Nov. 2019 Indulge a family member who has been trying to clue you in about plans., "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 11 Dec. 2019 This week could clue us in to Academy Awards front-runners. Michelle Krupa, CNN, "Start your Monday smart: CNN Heroes, Golden Globe noms, UK election, Nobels, Heisman," 8 Dec. 2019 That could hamper the chemical industry and might clue in enemies on how to cook them up. Richard Stone, Science | AAAS, "Poison used in recent attack on Russian spy may soon be banned," 23 Oct. 2019 Get clued in on #RottweilerMask during the Season 2 of #TheMaskedSinger, next Wednesday September 25 at 8/7c on @foxtv. Martha Sorren, Woman's Day, "Who Is The Rottweiler on 'The Masked Singer'? This Fan Guess Is The Most Legit One Yet," 27 Sep. 2019 Deeper analysis of this changing brightness might clue them in to the presence of oceans and continents. NBC News, "We keep looking for space aliens. Are they looking for us?," 18 Sep. 2019 Brussels-watchers and executives in Cupertino, California will inevitably wonder what clues the judgments might give about the General Court’s deliberations on Apple. The Economist, "A victory for Starbucks clarifies EU rules on sweetheart tax deals," 26 Sep. 2019 However, beyond the household names and headline grabbing players, the league is full of quality footballers that even the most clued up of anoraks would struggle to point out to you., "8 of the Best La Liga Players You May Not Have Heard of," 21 Sep. 2019

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

Time Traveler for clue

Time Traveler

The first known use of clue was circa 1665

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Statistics for clue

Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clue.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 29 January 2020.

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More Definitions for clue


How to pronounce clue (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of clue

: something that helps a person find something, understand something, or solve a mystery or puzzle
informal : an understanding of something : knowledge about something


\ ˈklü How to pronounce clue (audio) \

Kids Definition of clue

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on clue

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for clue

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with clue

Spanish Central: Translation of clue

Nglish: Translation of clue for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clue for Arabic Speakers

Comments on clue

What made you want to look up clue? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to assert without proof or before proving

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