\ 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 In fact, the Bidens’ vice-presidential residence is probably our biggest clue to what the Biden White House will look like. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Biden Blue Comes to the White House," 2 Feb. 2021 Infinity War, and that's your first clue that something is amiss MCU-wise., "How WandaVision’s Long, Strange Trip Fits Into The MCU," 25 Jan. 2021 Just can’t smell or taste anything which was my clue to go get a test. Baltimore Sun Staff,, "ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt says he tested positive for COVID-19, will miss a few ‘SportsCenter’ episodes," 17 Dec. 2020 His super clue was a rat eating pizza, and past guesses from the panel have included Jon Hamm, Jared Leto, Adam Lambert, Justin Guarini, Jordan Knight and Nick Lachey. Charles Trepany, USA TODAY, "'The Masked Singer' finale recap: Sun eclipses competition, rises above Crocodile, Mushroom," 17 Dec. 2020 Those in the hunt will get their first clue in the form of an encrypted puzzle that will lead them on to the next location in La Grange. Hank Beckman,, "Shepherd’s Treasure focuses on families in La Grange during the holidays," 16 Dec. 2020 Clearly, the brand has our attention, even if the general public has no clue what to make of it. Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver, "2021 Genesis GV80: Car and Driver 10Best," 18 Nov. 2020 The move seemingly has a domino effect on the team's draft and free agency plans, and is our first clue of Weaver's vision for the franchise. Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Pistons and the 2020 NBA draft: Here's everything you need to know," 17 Nov. 2020 Our biggest clue is what my late father used to call a hissy fit thrown by chairman Walker at the July 16 public meeting. Dallas News, "The Public Utility Commission has a secret: Regulator quietly dissolves its enforcement division," 31 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Changes in color can clue scientists into what is happening in the water. Rasha Aridi, Smithsonian Magazine, "A Third of the United States’ Rivers Have Changed Color Since 1984, Satellite Images Reveal," 4 Jan. 2021 Culinary history lesson Studying this cookbook today can clue us in to how our ancestors cooked and ate, while inspiring a new generation to go back to the basics in the kitchen. Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune, "Time travel for Christmas dinner with this 1904 Gold Medal Flour cookbook," 23 Dec. 2020 For sheer excitement, the Juilliard String Quartet and Leon Fleisher will clue you to whatever is your sound source. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, "Please, can we all listen to some Brahms and learn to get along," 9 Dec. 2020 Endorsements show which organizations approve of a candidate, and understanding what these groups advocate for can clue you in on what a candidate supports. John Kennedy, Popular Science, "How to decide who to vote for," 22 Oct. 2020 If there is a better defense in the nation than Georgia, please clue us in. Charles Hollis, al, "Saban sidelined but Dawgs’ problem is Tide offense," 16 Oct. 2020 Friends will occasionally clue Paye in on what’s being said about him, sending articles that could easily feed his ego. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "In an offseason full of hyperbole, one Michigan football star isn't falling prey to the hype," 8 Oct. 2020 This year, while the adoring audiences were replaced with an empty amphitheater, very little could clue viewers in to the fact that the show was produced during a pandemic. Zoe Christen Jones, CBS News, "Rihanna hopes new fashion show brings "a little bit of happiness" during pandemic," 2 Oct. 2020 Savage and his team sorted through previous research that could help clue them into the role of sleep. Corryn Wetzel, Smithsonian Magazine, "Researchers Say the Purpose of Sleep Shifts During the ‘Terrible Twos’," 18 Sep. 2020

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

Statistics for clue

Last Updated

17 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Clue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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
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

Nglish: Translation of clue for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clue for Arabic Speakers

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