\ 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

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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

Hans-Ulrich Auster, a researcher at TU-Braunschweig, said magnetometer measurements indicated that the asteroid has a weak magnetic field and MASCOT's landing behavior offered clues about the stiffness of the asteroid. Megan Gannon,, "'Crazy' Rocky Surface of Asteroid Ryugu Revealed in MASCOT Lander Images," 13 Oct. 2018 To begin, stop at the security desk located in the food court for a set of clues. Staff Report, Daily Southtown, "Community news: Orland Park promotes two longtime police officers," 31 May 2018 Indianapolis Colts fans are always looking for clues about the health of Andrew Luck's right shoulder. Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star, "Andrew Luck can lug around a kid with his right arm, so that's a good sign, right?," 19 May 2018 So the price hike offers us clues about Amazon’s approach to its still unprofitable retail business. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Inside Amazon Prime’s Price Hike," 2 May 2018 Sometimes looking at the past is more about searching for clues about how the future might be different. Kat Eschner, Outside Online, "One Small Step for a Woman, One Giant Leap for Mankind," 27 Apr. 2018 There are a few important clues to watch out for that might suggest your tiredness is a sign of sleep apnea. Korin Miller, SELF, "Houston Astros Pitcher Josh James Discovered His 'Laziness' Was Actually a Symptom of Sleep Apnea," 19 Oct. 2018 The Sun speculates that Princess Eugenie's love of the venue Petersham Nursery in London could be a major clue as to who might be catering her wedding. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's Royal Wedding Menu Mixes Formal Food with Fun Snacks," 1 Oct. 2018 Here’s hoping that's a clue to some intense silver and bronze pigments inside. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "Juvia's Place Gave a Sneak Peek of the New Nubian Loose Highlighters," 20 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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

8 Jan 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

: 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

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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).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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