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

Part of the settlement is in lockdown this morning, because of suspected infiltrators detected by electronic sensors. David Degner, Smithsonian, "Two Tour Guides—One Israeli, One Palestinian—Offer a New Way to See the Holy Land," 9 July 2019 These radiotracers decay via positron emission, creating back-to-back gamma rays that are simultaneously detected by a PET scanner. Julie Grisham, Scientific American, "Faster, clearer PET images offer new views on disease," 9 July 2019 Gunfire, with more energy and an often louder sound, travels farther, allowing it to be detected by more ShotSpotter sensors. Bianca Sanchez,, "Gunshots or fireworks? How to tell the difference," 3 July 2019 Over 90 percent of that is detected by our own technologies proactively without any user reports. Eric Johnson, Vox, "Twitter’s Kayvon Beykpour and Vijaya Gadde: the Code Conference interview (transcript)," 27 June 2019 When an anomaly is detected by the scanner, authorities then search the container, Sapp said. Brittany Brown,, "Authorities seize 333 pounds of cocaine at Port of Baltimore — Customs' largest bust at port to date," 25 June 2019 After his ninth strikeout, Parrish let out a yell easily detected by the stadium microphones. Mike Malloy,, "Drew Parrish helps FSU earn 1-0 win over Arkansas to open CWS," 15 June 2019 The lobby’s soundtrack, created by experimental musician Julianna Barwick in partnership with Microsoft, is a composition that changes based off movements detected by the hotel’s sky camera. Carmen Rosy Hall, Vogue, "Tranquility Rules at Sister City, the Newest Hotel on Bowery," 30 Apr. 2019 Further analysis revealed that the lacquer was actually the source of the chromium detected by earlier researchers. National Geographic, "Ancient advanced weapon technology theory debunked by new research," 4 Apr. 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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Statistics for detect

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for detect

The first known use of detect was in 1574

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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).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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