\ 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

After the first installment of the new series wraps up, fans can look forward to a fresh round of over-the-top performances, mysterious clues, and crazy costumes. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'The Masked Singer' Season 2: Everything We Know So Far," 9 Feb. 2019 Here's every clue that Josie and Archie have been into each other all along: 1. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "11 Signs that "Riverdale"'s Josie and Archie Have Been Into Each Other All Along," 31 Jan. 2019 But if the milk-chugging videos are a clue, white supremacists aren’t into subtleties. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Watch: Stephen Colbert skewers white supremacists’ weird obsession with chugging milk," 19 Oct. 2018 Proponents of either theory point towards a number of clues: that the Titanic didn't allow for a public examination before its voyage—out of fear that it would be found out by experts as Olympic in disguise, theorists claim. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Wild Conspiracy That the Titanic Never Sank," 27 Feb. 2019 There's been a lot of clues over the last few months about Meghan's pregnancy (read: her newly-straight hair to distract from her baby bump), but the Duchess has been incredibly careful not to definitively give anything away. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "How Meghan Markle Told Her BFF Jessica Mulroney About Her Pregnancy," 16 Oct. 2018 After posting a string of clues on social media, Ariana tweeted a video of herself in the studio on Oct. 5, while a new song plays in the background. Dan Barna, Teen Vogue, "Ariana Grande Might Have Just Previewed a Song From Her New Album," 5 Oct. 2018 The clue lies in how Insider Build 18323, released Thursday evening, is defined as the release branch of Windows 10—a near-final, bug-bashing development stage. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Windows 10's April 2019 Update should be as straightforward as its name," 25 Jan. 2019 The rest of the world would have no clue North Korea was even in the picture. Niharika Mandhana And Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, "North Korea Built an Alternative Financial System Using a Shadowy Network of Traders," 28 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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

19 Mar 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

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


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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