de·tect | \ di-ˈtekt , dē- \

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 \-ˌtek-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē \ noun
detectable \-ˈtek-tə-bəl \ 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

Skylights open via remote control, and automatically close if sensors detect precipitation. David Gleisner, Daily Southtown, "Rare glass house carved into hillside hits the market in Olympia Fields," 14 July 2018 First responders can use this to reveal which nerve agent is being used in an attack, detect where it is located and identify how much has been deployed. Allison Barrie, Fox News, "Innovative project harnesses Legos and smartphones in the fight against invisible, deadly weapons," 13 July 2018 Most of the neutrinos detected by IceCube originated nearby, spawned by cosmic rays hitting Earth's upper atmosphere. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "Ghostly particle caught in polar ice ushers in new way to look at the universe," 12 July 2018 If a match is detected, YouTube will notify the user who can decide whether to take action or not. Monica Mercuri, Billboard, "YouTube Creators Have a New Tool to Battle Re-Uploads of Their Content," 12 July 2018 Because of this, analysts will also scour through videos, breaking them down frame by frame to try and identify any small adjustments in body position or posture that can help a goalkeeper detect where the ball might go. Umair Irfan, Vox, "World Cup shootouts: why the team that goes first usually wins," 11 July 2018 Written and directed by and starring Mackenzie Crook, this beautiful pastoral comedy – set around metal-detecting hobbyists searching for Saxon gold and spiritual connection – makes a song out of the present and past, what changes and what remains. Robert Lloyd,, "Critic's picks for Emmy nominations: Love for Kristen Bell, ‘Twin Peaks’ and … ‘Detectorists’," 10 July 2018 That’s the pattern for initial coin offerings (ICOs) detected by economists Leonard Kostovetsky and Hugo Benedetti at Boston College, who conducted a study of over 4,000 startups that raised $12 billion from January 2017 to April 2018. Lucaswpcom, Fortune, "Live Fast, Die Young: Many Startups Powered by Initial Coin Offerings Don't Last, But There's Still Money to Be Made," 10 July 2018 Our radar is detecting the smoke from the Fort Worth show. Nichole Manna, star-telegram, "Fort Worth's fireworks show was so large it showed up on National Weather Service radar," 5 July 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

29 Aug 2018

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 \
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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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).


the setting in which something occurs

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