\ 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

The footprints also provide clues about the makeup of the Neanderthal group, because scientists can use the length and of a footprint to estimate a person's height and build. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "80,000-year-old footprints reveal Neanderthal social life," 10 Sep. 2019 Authorities hope that an autopsy can provide some clues about what happened to the toddler in between. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, "Autopsy of a missing 23-month-old girl found dead in a Pennsylvania park is planned for today," 4 Sep. 2019 More than a month after a crash in New Hampshire that killed seven motorcyclists, federal safety officials have issued a report that provides no fresh clues as to what caused the tragedy., "Officials issue report on crash that killed 7 motorcyclists," 24 July 2019 The Fed's updated views on growth, unemployment and inflation could provide clues on what the Fed might do with interest rates. CBS News, "3 things to watch for from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday," 18 June 2019 Keeping a sleep diary and connecting with a sleep specialist could provide clues as to what could be contributing to your terrors, the AASM says. Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, "9 Types of Parasomnias That Might Explain That Weird Thing You Do When You Sleep," 5 June 2019 The clue to that response in the form of a question would be that Alex Trebek is back to work at Jeopardy and done with chemotherapy. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Alex Trebek is back to work at Jeopardy and done with chemotherapy," 29 Aug. 2019 In the meantime, rescuers are conducting their own informal inquiry, and as is often the case in the age-old battle of humans and their housing versus habitat, the clues keep pointing to humans. Damien Cave,, "Who is killing wallabies in northern Australia?," 26 Aug. 2019 The clue’s in the name – this is a game which is played by men all over the world, not at night but in the morning or the afternoon, without the cover of darkness. Sara Macauley,, "Have You Been Daygamed? The New Method Men Are Using To 'Attract Amazing Women'," 22 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 One of the names, ROXANE, could have been clued as a reference to best-selling (and living) author Roxane Gay but instead defaulted to a character from the 19th-century play Cyrano de Bergerac. Peter Rubin, WIRED, "Upstart Crossword Puzzle Builders Get Their Point Across (and Down)," 19 Aug. 2019 Swift's got a, well, reputation for dropping easter eggs in music videos, Instagram posts, and even outfits to clue fans in about her next steps. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "Taylor Swift Fans Already Have So Many Theories About the Official Lover Tracklist," 17 Aug. 2019 Elba even clued the fellas in, urging them to follow one little piece of advise to be an all-star husband. Danielle Young, Essence, "You Can Stop Wondering. This Is The Type Of Husband Idris Elba Is," 6 Aug. 2019 The next time, sports science coordinator Jenn Gibson clued him in. Dan Wiederer,, "Wait ... what exactly was Matt Nagy trying to buy with his Cracker Jack? A Tribune investigation," 28 July 2019 What clued me into Beck’s facade was the oversized wedding ring. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Star Jake Gyllenhaal Pulls Back the Curtain on Mysterio," 23 July 2019 While there are still many unknowns, scientists are excited about what other clues the jaw may hold for understanding human evolution in Asia. National Geographic, "Mysterious ancient human found on the ‘roof of the world’," 1 May 2019 His best guests are clued in to this dynamic and play straight men. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, "The Sociopathic Comedy of Brett Davis," 10 Apr. 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

17 Sep 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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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