\ 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 The host shares their screen in order to give clues and set challenges for teams, and teams can see and chat with each other over the video conferencing app, according to Mashable. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "This Virtual Escape Room Lets You Solve Puzzles and Have Fun With Friends While Social Distancing," 18 May 2020 This data gives clues to the recombination rate as well, DeLucia said. Emily Bamforth, cleveland, "Online coronavirus mutation visualizer gives clues to how coronavirus spread across the world," 8 May 2020 Images come in every day and are scoured for clues about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs: a trailer being parked here, steam coming from a facility there, scaffolding or a platform being put up somewhere else. Simon Denyer,, "Where’s North Korea’s Kim? Lets see what the satellites say.," 29 Apr. 2020 The knowledge could give researchers and health care workers clues about who is more vulnerable to the virus. Amanda Morris, azcentral, "Are some people more likely to get sick with COVID-19? Genetics may offer clues," 22 Apr. 2020 Each team’s spymaster knows the agents’ secret identities but can only give one-word clues to their teammates. René A. Guzman,, "From Guess Who and Catlan to flinging burritos, here are the best board games for family game night," 3 Apr. 2020 However, a look in the rearview might give us some clues. A. J. Baime, Car and Driver, "Will the American Auto Industry Save Us All (Again)?," 31 Mar. 2020 Erica Groshen, the former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, said underlying data in the report could give clues to the virus’s emerging impact. Paul Kiernan, WSJ, "March Jobs Report Unlikely to Show Full Impact of the Coronavirus Crisis," 29 Mar. 2020 Much has been speculated over the past couple of months, but the Royal Family has given clues sporadically about how deeply the Sussexes' resignation as senior royals has affected everyone involved. Katherine J Igoe, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Are Now Reconciling With the Royal Family," 27 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Spending a few days walking the woods and looking for fresh sign, not only beneath roost trees but anywhere the birds might be feeding, will start to clue you into the daily travels of the neighborhood flock. Tony J. Peterson, Outdoor Life, "7 Tips for Bowhunting Turkeys this Spring," 9 Apr. 2020 Bannon told investigators he wasn’t clued in on all of Flynn’s discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak as the Obama administration sought to impose sanctions on Russia following the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "'No real transition team in place': Newly released Mueller memos shed light on chaotic Trump operation," 4 Feb. 2020 Several important details clued the researchers in on the discovery. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Witness the Death of a Solar System, and the Birth of Necroplanetology," 1 Apr. 2020 The clued-in were seen walking out of Home Depot in Garland with industrial-size packages of paper towels. Maria Halkias, Dallas News, "Grocery shopping remains a challenge with eggs added to the (empty shelf) list," 27 Mar. 2020 For those not clued into conservative grievance culture, the behavior of Nunes and his Republican colleagues during the impeachment hearings in the House struck an odd chord. Jake Bernstein, The New York Review of Books, "The Fundraising Pulpit," 8 Apr. 2020 The findings, described in a recent study published in the journal PeerJ, could clue scientists in to the communicative cues penguins rely on to hunt. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "In a First, Researchers Record Penguins Vocalizing Under Water," 23 Mar. 2020 Not clueing in the leaders of EU nations beforehand on his travel limits and making us all guess who was affected was just bad form. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "White House Report Card: Dueling performances on virus ends on a weekly high," 14 Mar. 2020 Dolores, cluing in the hosts to their own exploitation and lack of freedom, is both avatar of revenge and leader of the class struggle. Mike Hale, New York Times, "Review: The Perfect Timing of ‘Westworld’ Season 3," 12 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for clue

Time Traveler

The first known use of clue was circa 1665

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Statistics for clue

Last Updated

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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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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