\ˈklü \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

One clue is that the crater severs drainage channels in the bedrock. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Huge, previously unknown impact crater found beneath Greenland’s ice," 18 Nov. 2018 Brad Galvan, a former supervisory special agent at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said that markings on the packages from the U.S. Postal Service or other carriers are among the best clues. Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, "Search for Bomb Suspect Intensifies," 25 Oct. 2018 Delevingne and Benson have been rumored to be an item since May. Despite the subtle clues on both of their Instagrams, the two have not publicly confirmed their relationship status. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Cara Delevingne and Ashley Benson Attend Paris Fashion Week Together," 28 Sep. 2018 The first clue is looking back at past trilogies for correlation. Adam Schubak, Popular Mechanics, "Everything We Know So Far About Star Wars Episode IX," 17 Sep. 2018 Ada’s Place and Legacy Records The first clues of Midtown West’s transformation can be found at Ada’s Place, a chic cocktail bar located above Legacy Records on 38th Street (part of Hudson Yards’ evolving development). Amy Louise Bailey, Vogue, "The New York City Restaurants to Know This Fall," 31 Aug. 2018 How could Jeff Flake, who is setting record low polling numbers in Arizona and was therefore humiliatingly forced out of his own Senate seat without even a fight (and who doesn’t have a clue), think about running for office, even a lower one, again? Andrew Prokop, Vox, "Jeff Flake’s Brett Kavanaugh delay, and difficult history with Trump, explained," 28 Sep. 2018 His attention to detail is never pedantic, but provides clues to attitudes and beliefs. The Economist, "Capturing the voice of a brilliant, unorthodox teacher of literature," 28 June 2018 Girish Gupta, a former journalist and the founder of Data Drum, a website that collects and analyzes economic data from Venezuela and other countries, says the government’s figures provide clues to the crisis. Author: Jim Wyss, Anchorage Daily News, "Venezuela’s currency is worth so little that artisans make purses out of it," 24 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 One of his instructors was a potter, who clued him into the craft. Cassie Owens,, "Throwing down: How this potter from Kensington found fine art success," 26 June 2018 And while visiting Riverdale might seem glamorous — if slightly macabre, given the murders and intrigue that occur in the not-so-quaint town, Camila also clued everyone in to the effects of having to wear heavy makeup on set. Leah Prinzivalli, Teen Vogue, "Camila Mendes Reveals Her Favorite Eyebrow Products," 19 June 2018 Prince Louis's royal christening occurred behind closed chapel doors today, but there is one special aspect of the ceremony the public got clued in on. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The Royal Family Flew in Special Water for Prince Louis's Christening Today," 10 July 2018 What led you to suspect that there was lead in the water of Flint, Mich.? I was clued in by a high school girlfriend–a drinking-water expert–over a glass of wine at a barbecue at my house. Belinda Luscombe, Time, "The Doctor Who Discovered Lead in Flint's Water on What Went Wrong and How to Fix It," 28 June 2018 Using the search engine’s algorithms along with intel from local experts, Explore will clue you into the best places to hit according to category—whether that’s brunch, sandwiches, or rooftop cocktails. Marie Salcido, Sunset, "Google Maps’ Latest Features Make It the Ultimate Local Travel Resource," 22 Jan. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about clue

Dictionary Entries near clue





clued up

clue in


Statistics for clue

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for clue

The first known use of clue was circa 1665

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

: an understanding of something : knowledge about something


\ˈklü \

Kids Definition of clue

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!