\ 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


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

If need be, a 16th clue will be posted at 6 a.m. Sunday, June 9., "2019 Rose Festival Treasure Hunt to be extended," 7 June 2019 My second clue was seeing the energy in the room change; there was a sudden sense of urgency. Donna Blass,, "I Had a Perfectly Normal EKG at My Check-Up—and the Next Day I Had a Heart Attack," 7 June 2019 The exterior provides some clues to the cars' sporting intentions. Annie White, Car and Driver, "The 2020 Mini JCW Countryman and Clubman Get More Power," 14 May 2019 The clue is in the name: the exterior of the book has been embellished with 100 carats of diamonds set into the wood cover. Daniel Golson, Car and Driver, "Bentley's Coffee-Table Book Costs Over $250,000 and Is Covered in Diamonds," 17 May 2019 The biggest clue that points a finger away from Dewey is the dog that mysteriously appeared before she was shot. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Who Killed Cassandra on "The Society"?," 13 May 2019 An even bigger clue is that right after the It Chapter 2 trailer shows the Paul Bunyan statue, we see grown up Richie (a.k.a. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "The 'It Chapter 2' Trailer Has So Many Hidden Easter Eggs," 10 May 2019 The one clue as to the scene's significance lies in Brosnahan's lap: a mysterious green envelope. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "See Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein on the Set of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season Three," 18 Apr. 2019 The first clue that Compute Cards were in jeopardy came from NexDock, which developed a modular laptop shell, the NexDock 1, that was powered by your phone. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Intel kills the Compute Card, a small-form-factor modular computing product that didn't stick," 22 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

All photos by Theo McInnes That’s the thing about CONIFA, if you’re not clued in yet., "​South Ossetia: How CONIFA European Football Cup Finalists Went From Violence to Victory," 8 June 2019 Some fans noticed early on that Jay and Bey were in their house, but others were clued in when they were shown on the big screen at Oracle. Jim Harrington, The Mercury News, "Billionaire couple Jay-Z, Beyonce attend Warriors, Raptors game," 5 June 2019 That operational synergy is an improvement over the dynamic last season, when Nagy’s predecessor, John Fox, wasn’t entirely clued in on Pace’s obsession with quarterback Mitch Trubisky until just about when the commissioner called Trubisky’s name. Dan Wiederer,, "The Bears are back! At Halas Hall anyway. So now what?," 3 Apr. 2018 The result, like most Eckhaus creations, commanded a double take for those clued in to the details. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "These Marbleized Lips at Eckhaus Latta Are About to Become an Art-Punk Beauty Obsession," 8 Sep. 2018 In case the arrival of PSLs and candy hasn't clued you in, Halloween is lurking just around the corner. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Makeup Artist Created a Halloween Look Inspired by "The Nun"," 25 Sep. 2018 After the disappointing meeting, investors are cluing up to Under Armour’s management and governance weaknesses. Elizabeth Winkler, WSJ, "Under Armour’s #MeToo Problem Is Also a Growth Problem," 13 Dec. 2018 That would be no different for Spring 2019—and attendees were clued into what his slogan would be upon arrival. Ana Colón, Glamour, "At New York Fashion Week, Designers Had a Strong Message: Vote," 13 Sep. 2018 Authoritative parents seem to be clued in to what's going on with their kids. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "What Is Authoritative Parenting? Experts Say It's the Best of All Worlds," 16 Nov. 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


Statistics for clue

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

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
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with clue

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for clue

Spanish Central: Translation of clue

Nglish: Translation of clue for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clue for Arabic Speakers

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