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

Other Words from detect

detectability \ di-​ˌtek-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce detect (audio) , dē-​ \ noun
detectable \ di-​ˈtek-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce detect (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 Some areas use wastewater tracking to detect genetic material associated with the coronavirus as an alternate measure of the virus’s prevalence in a community. Fenit Nirappil Abd Hannah Knowles, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Jan. 2022 Most use website scrapers or bots to detect changes on a product's webpage on large retail websites. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, 11 Jan. 2022 Navies around the world use sonobuoys to detect submarines, allowing sub hunters to quickly form their own underwater detection grids. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 6 Jan. 2022 Your video doorbell can most likely use its onboard computer vision capabilities to detect family, friends, pets, and strangers. Gear Team, Wired, 6 Jan. 2022 The researchers have released a free software tool that people can use to detect if their MikroTik device is either vulnerable or infected. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 9 Dec. 2021 Simmers said that state police brought in an expert to use an ultraviolet black light to detect bodily fluids in the area Betsy had been found. NBC News, 28 Nov. 2021 The property typically runs five to eight ghost tours a day — that number shoots up in October — and Workman says some of their guides use electromagnetic field (EMF) meters to detect the presence of spirits. Washington Post, 29 Oct. 2021 Those microscopes use a beam of electrons to detect the shape of objects that are too small to see with a regular light microscope. Eva Amsen, Forbes, 28 Oct. 2021

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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Last Updated

25 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Detect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on detect

Nglish: Translation of detect for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of detect for Arabic Speakers


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