\ 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 But detectives say there was one clue left behind: the position of Kelly's skeleton. Peter Van Sant, CBS News, "Solving the mystery behind the disappearance of Kelly Dwyer," 2 Nov. 2019 There were other early clues about Shanahan’s desire to chase a career in coaching. Ron Kroichick,, "49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan: From ball boy to head coach," 31 Oct. 2019 Google is an easy application to accidentally stay logged in to, so this may be an easily obtainable clue. 3. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, "5 digital signs that your significant other is cheating," 31 Oct. 2019 His report on this strange phenomenon was the first clue that the measles virus didn’t just cause a high fever and a nasty rash. Wired, "How the Measles Virus Induces ‘Immune Amnesia’," 31 Oct. 2019 Then, there's all the clues Noah fans have pointed out. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Everything You Need to Know About Alexis Ren's Love Life," 18 Oct. 2019 The bite could be a clue that helps researchers find exactly where great white sharks are mating in the North Atlantic, Fischer told McClatchy. Fox News, "Great white shark captured off US coast with gash on head was bitten by even bigger shark, experts say," 18 Oct. 2019 These were just the clues that could be turned up by searching online — what else could be learned in China? Alex W. Palmer, New York Times, "The China Connection: How One D.E.A. Agent Cracked a Global Fentanyl Ring," 17 Oct. 2019 There are few clues but plenty of questions in the slaying. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: China, if you’re listening ...," 4 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Proving non-disclosure—that the player failed to clue the team into a situation that might affect his ability to work. Albert Breer,, "Brown’s Week in Foxboro Isn’t Surprising, Stay Tuned to Ramsey’s Request, More Notes," 16 Sep. 2019 Here are the key phrases that might clue you in: Our processing of personal data for these purposes includes both automated and manual (human) methods of processing. Sean Hollister, The Verge, "Microsoft’s new privacy policy admits humans are listening to some Skype and Cortana recordings," 14 Aug. 2019 Regular bars and restaurants are cluing into the idea that alcohol-free customers want more than a Shirley Temple or a splash of cranberry with a spritz. NBC News, "With a nudge from the young and sober, mocktails taking hold," 4 Sep. 2019 Whether players are properly clued in on that is murky as well as a springboard for several lawsuits., "A History of Football in 100 Objects," 28 Aug. 2019 Harrison has mastered the ability to overact, ever so slightly, so as to clue in the audience to Luce’s code-switching among his many roles: student, friend, child, self. Nora Mcgreevy,, "More than a matter of black and white," 8 Aug. 2019 What clued you in to the existence of asymptotic freedom? Peter Byrne, Quanta Magazine, "Waiting for the Revolution," 24 May 2013 Someone who had an older sister clued me into Madonna. Alyson Pomerantz, Longreads, "Anaphylaxis of the Mind," 3 Sep. 2019 Those patterns help clue my unit in to find out what’s going on out there. Robert Salonga, The Mercury News, "Burglary crew arrests linked to nearly 20 crimes throughout Bay Area," 30 Aug. 2019

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

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for clue

The first known use of clue was circa 1665

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More Definitions for clue


How to pronounce clue (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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