de·​tect | \ di-ˈtekt How to pronounce detect (audio) , dē- \
detected; detecting; detects

Definition of detect

transitive verb

1 : to discover the true character of detecting drug smugglers
2 : to discover or determine the existence, presence, or fact of detect alcohol in the blood Do I detect a note of sarcasm in your voice?

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Other Words from detect

detectability \ di-​ˌtek-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce detectability (audio) , dē-​ \ noun
detectable \ di-​ˈtek-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce detectable (audio) , dē-​ \ adjective

Examples of detect in a Sentence

The test is used to detect the presence of alcohol in the blood. This type of cancer is difficult to detect in its early stages.
Recent Examples on the Web The study, of more than 40,000 women with extremely dense breasts in the Netherlands, found that those who had mammograms followed by MRIs had more tumors detected than with mammography alone. Arkansas Online, "MRIs' breast-scan role focus of study," 28 Nov. 2019 Companies like Fakespot specialize in detecting fake or paid reviews, particularly those posted by humans. Sapna Maheshwari, New York Times, "When Is a Star Not Always a Star? When It’s an Online Review," 28 Nov. 2019 Counterterrorism Chief James Waters said the technology detected several drones flying in the vicinity of the United Nations General Assembly gathering in September. Michael R. Sisak,, "Wind could ground the giant balloons at NYC’s Thanksgiving parade," 27 Nov. 2019 But documenting the reduction in cancer detected in between screenings is an important first step in showing the value of supplemental MRI for women with extremely dense breast tissue. Alice Park, Time, "New Study Suggests Women With Dense Breast Tissue May Benefit From Regular MRIs," 27 Nov. 2019 Originally, the app was programmed to warn users if seismic sensors detected an earthquake at an intensity of at least 4 on the Modified Mercalli intensity (MMI) scale—shaking that is noticeable, but not strong enough to damage buildings. Nicolas Rivero, Quartz, "You’re about to get a lot fewer flash flood alerts on your phone," 25 Nov. 2019 Administrators at Highland Park Middle School sent a message to parents on Sunday, assuring them that the asbestos detected in the gym is not a widespread issue. Emily Goodykoontz | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Beaverton’s Highland Park Middle School will reopen after closing for asbestos testing," 25 Nov. 2019 The latest report shows Facebook detects material posted by non-ISIS or al-Qaida extremist groups at a lower rate than those two organizations. NBC News, "Facebook says it removed 3.2 billion fake accounts in 6 months," 13 Nov. 2019 During the August cruise of the Coast cutter Guard Healy, scientists spotted dead birds, including in an area where the Woods Hole team detected high levels of an algae that can produce saxitoxin. Hal Bernton, Anchorage Daily News, "Why are birds and seals starving in a Bering Sea full of fish?," 10 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'detect.' 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 detect

1574, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for detect

Middle English, from Latin detectus, past participle of detegere to uncover, detect, from de- + tegere to cover — more at thatch

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Time Traveler for detect

Time Traveler

The first known use of detect was in 1574

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Statistics for detect

Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Detect.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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More Definitions for detect


How to pronounce detect (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of detect

: to discover or notice the presence of (something that is hidden or hard to see, hear, taste, etc.)


de·​tect | \ di-ˈtekt How to pronounce detect (audio) \
detected; detecting

Kids Definition of detect

: to learn that something or someone is or was there detect smoke

Other Words from detect

detector \ -​ˈtek-​tər \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on detect

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for detect

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with detect

Spanish Central: Translation of detect

Nglish: Translation of detect for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of detect for Arabic Speakers

Comments on detect

What made you want to look up detect? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


very cautious or careful

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