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 resolution did not single out any individual country, but a number of nations -- including the US -- have accused Beijing of withholding information about the virus, which was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. Rob Picheta, CNN, "WHO approves call for inquiry into global coronavirus response," 19 May 2020 No new deaths have been reported in a month in the world's second-largest economy, where the coronavirus was first detected late last year. Colleen Barry, oregonlive, "European leaders are blunt: A coronavirus vaccine won’t come soon enough," 17 May 2020 No new deaths have been reported in a month in the world’s second-largest economy, where the coronavirus was first detected late last year. Colleen Barry, Time, "European Leaders Warn the World Needs to Adapt to COVID-19 and Cannot Wait for a Vaccine," 17 May 2020 The National Health Commission reported four new cases in the northeastern province of Jilin, where a cluster of uncertain origin has been detected in recent days. Houston Chronicle, "Virus tests hospitals in pockets of US as some states reopen," 15 May 2020 China, where the virus was first detected, reported 14 new cases Sunday, its first double-digit rise in 10 days. Frank Jordans And Nomaan Merchant, The Christian Science Monitor, "Trump officials forecast economic rebound as lockdowns lift," 10 May 2020 Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are testing a pack of eight Labrador retrievers to find out if their sensitive snouts can detect the pandemic virus by scent, Karin Brulliard reports for the Washington Post. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Dogs Are Being Trained to Sniff Out COVID-19," 1 May 2020 More than a dozen U.S. researchers — physicians and public health experts — were working full-time at the WHO headquarters when the virus was detected late last year. Emily Rauhala, Washington Post, "Trump’s WHO funding freeze during coronavirus pandemic gives China an opening to expand its influence," 27 Apr. 2020 Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus was first detected, lifted a 76-day lockdown this week, allowing residents to leave the city for the first time since Jan. 23. Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu, Quartz Africa, "After enduring months of lockdown, Africans in China are being targeted and evicted from apartments," 11 Apr. 2020

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

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Detect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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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

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