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?

intransitive verb

: to work as a detective

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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 system uses the car's radar and cameras to detect bicyclists, then warns the driver and fully applies the brakes if necessary. Daniel Golson, Car and Driver, "Volvo Developed a New World-First Bike Helmet Crash Test for Cars," 3 June 2019 As of June 12, more than 15 vehicles were detected by the technology, according to a report by The Republic. Lauren Castle, azcentral, "At least 9 killed locally by wrong-way drivers in 2018: How to stay safe," 3 July 2018 In high school, Bui took eight Advanced Placement classes, served as secretary of her school's National Honor Society, helped design a device to detect E. coli in water and was one of 19 valedictorians of her graduating class. Corlyn Voorhees,, "Madison High graduate to attend Brown University as first-generation college student," 8 June 2018 Existing radar systems are designed to detect much bigger threats. W.j. Hennigan, Time, "Experts Say Drones Pose a National Security Threat — and We Aren’t Ready," 31 May 2018 Minkin, who is a representative for First Response tests, said the brand's Early Results test can detect pregnancy before your next period is even scheduled to come. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "How to Take a Pregnancy Test," 3 May 2019 Research shows that some dogs can actually detect a wide array of serious conditions, including seizures related to epilepsy. Alexandra Gekas, Woman's Day, "9 Things Your Dog Is Trying to Tell You, According to Experts," 25 Feb. 2019 To Wardle's surprise, results from VirusTotal at the time showed that only two antivirus providers—Kaspersky and ZoneAlarm—detected the file as malicious. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Four months after its debut, sneaky Mac malware went undetected by AV providers," 21 Dec. 2018 Since hydrogen and deuterium have identical shapes but different vibrational frequencies, the results again suggested that our noses could indeed detect vibrations. Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, "How Quantum Mechanics Lets Us See, Smell and Touch," 24 Oct. 2018

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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Statistics for detect

Last Updated

6 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for detect

The first known use of detect was in 1574

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More Definitions for detect



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with detect

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


a tendency to relapse

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