\ 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

That, of course, is not the only example of Swift leaving clues in her music. Glamour, "Taylor Swift Just Owned Up to Planting All Those Music Easter Eggs," 9 May 2019 While the palace has not confirmed the Duchess of Sussex's official due date, the press office did give a small clue in the official pregnancy announcement released in October. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "When Is Meghan Markle's Due Date? Here's When the Royal Baby Will Likely Be Born," 18 Apr. 2019 This is the most rational and obvious clue in the post. Marie Claire, "Taylor Swift Superfans Called Her Big April 26 Announcement Months Ago," 13 Apr. 2019 While the main announcement over the musical and the cast has everyone talking, there's a big hidden clue in the announcement sheet. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Everything We Know About "Riverdale"'s "Heathers: The Musical" Episode," 18 Jan. 2019 This week, the speculation turned to Harry and Meghan's upcoming royal tour of the Oceania region, as people looked for clues in their itinerary that might indicate something about the timing of their plans to start a family. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Why People Are Jumping to Conclusions About Meghan Markle and Zika Right Now," 13 Sep. 2018 The house reappears like a clue in a mysterious riddle. Kevin Young, New York Times, "Poem: [ Death’s Dictionary ]," 31 May 2018 For years, companies have been trying to pry into our minds, looking for clues in our facial expressions. Staff, WIRED, "WIRED’S Predictions for Bots, Blockchains, Crispr, and More," 22 May 2018 At first, people expected the comet to hit the crowded urban setting known as Tilted Towers, but some clues led others to predict, correctly, that the comet would wipe out Dusty Depot, which was thereafter to be known as Dusty Divot. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, "How Fortnite Captured Teens’ Hearts and Minds," 14 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Or maybe they're clued in to bkr's philanthropic aspect: the company donates a portion of their proceeds to charities such as the Obakki Foundation, which raises funds to bring clean water to African cities in need. Amy Preiser, ELLE Decor, "Bottle Service," 7 June 2012 In case the complete panic taking place on Twitter right now didn't clue you in, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas are reportedly engaged. Emily Wang, Glamour, "People Cannot Handle Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas's Maybe-Engagement," 27 July 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

14 May 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

Comments on clue

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using a distributed computer network

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