detective

adjective
de·​tec·​tive | \ di-ˈtek-tiv How to pronounce detective (audio) \

Definition of detective

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : fitted for or used in detecting something had perfected his detective sensibilities
2 : of or relating to detectives or their work a detective novel

detective

noun

Definition of detective (Entry 2 of 2)

: one employed or engaged in detecting lawbreakers or in getting information that is not readily or publicly accessible

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Other Words from detective

Adjective

detectivelike \ di-​ˈtek-​tiv-​ˌlīk How to pronounce detectivelike (audio) \ adjective

Examples of detective in a Sentence

Adjective

We had to do some detective work to find out who used to own the property. He enjoys reading detective novels.

Noun

She is a detective on the police force. Detective Sgt. Lee is working on the case. She hired a detective to follow her husband.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Named for the late star’s car-chasing 1968 detective thriller of that title, the hotel calls itself no-frills, but the design is fun and stylish. New York Times, "In Belfast, a Hotel Inspired by a Steve McQueen Movie," 24 Feb. 2018 Hanover Square Press will publish their debut detective novel, First Cut, in 2019. Dr. Judy Melinek, Vox, "The NRA told doctors to “stay in your lane” on guns. I’m a doctor. This is my lane.," 12 Nov. 2018 Among this week's half-dozen Paperback Picks is the 20th Harry Bosch detective novel and a nonfiction account of 10,000 American women who, during wartime, learned to break German and Japanese military codes. Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times, "Paperback Picks: books by Roddy Doyle, Lisa Halliday and more," 15 Oct. 2018 Unlike most detective series, which rely on the bleakness of their protagonists’ lives, Sjöwall and Wahlöö allowed their detective a journey of enlightenment and redemptive love. Alice Bolin, Longreads, "The Daughter as Detective," 26 June 2018 Pat was a voracious reader, devouring everything from detective novels to biographies, and was extremely appreciative of the Windsor Public Library. Hartford Courant, courant.com, "Patricia Alves," 21 June 2018 Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg have set their next project with Netflix movie Wonderland, an adaptation from Robert B. Parker's detective novel series. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, "Mark Wahlberg, Peter Berg Reteam for 'Wonderland' at Netflix," 26 June 2018 In the latest installment, Gonzales highlights Rhode Island Red, a detective novel written by Charlotte Carter. Danielle Jackson, Longreads, "Series Exhumes Out-of-Print Books by Black Authors," 14 June 2018 Well, Westworld is a puzzle, and so self-aware about that fact that the rollout for Season 2 featured an elaborate tease for the show’s Redditor-detective fan base involving rickrolling and 21 minutes of a dog sitting at a piano. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Promethean Puzzles of Westworld," 22 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Former bosses and coworkers complained to detectives that Hamed was lazy and sometimes hid from others to avoid work, but didn't recall him ever being violent or threatening. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "Police: Terrorism suspect swore allegiance to ISIS before attacking MCSO deputy," 20 June 2019 Hutchins was positively identified by the mother and interviewed by detectives. Emma Keith, Detroit Free Press, "Lincoln Park man charged with kidnapping attempt after reportedly grabbing 3-year-old," 19 June 2019 Those school employees did not recall any visits by Karun when they were questioned by detectives. Nicholas Rondinone, courant.com, "Norwalk officials praise police work in 32-year search for Kathleen Flynn’s killer," 18 June 2019 The sheriff’s office said ongoing efforts by detectives led searchers on Saturday to a remote wooded area about 10 miles west of Yamhill. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Missing Oregon mom and boy are found dead," 18 June 2019 In an interview with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police detectives, Bostick denied ever hitting or bruising the baby. Indianapolis Star, "'Something is wrong with Stink': Boyfriend charged in abuse death of 1-year-old," 18 June 2019 Instead, prosecutors worked closely with Houston Police Department homicide detectives in building the case against Jackson. Jay R. Jordan, Houston Chronicle, "‘No DNA test could ever link me to him,’ accused killer of Josue Flores claims," 18 June 2019 The work done by these detectives has been nothing short of exceptional… finding answers for Ms. Krashoc’s family. Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post, "Thornton man arrested in 1987 cold case murder of Fort Carson soldier," 14 June 2019 The victim positively identified Webber through a photo spread provided by detectives. NBC News, "Man killed by U.S. Marshals in Memphis was wanted for violent car theft," 13 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'detective.' 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 detective

Adjective

1732, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1849, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for detective

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Time Traveler for detective

The first known use of detective was in 1732

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More Definitions for detective

detective

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of detective

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: done in order to find out hidden or unknown information
: of or relating to crimes and detectives

detective

noun

English Language Learners Definition of detective (Entry 2 of 2)

: a police officer whose job is to find information about crimes that have occurred and to catch criminals
: a person whose job is to find information about something or someone

detective

noun
de·​tec·​tive | \ di-ˈtek-tiv How to pronounce detective (audio) \

Kids Definition of detective

1 : a police officerwho investigates crimes and catches criminals
2 : a person whose job is to find information about someone or something

detective

noun
de·​tec·​tive

Legal Definition of detective

: a person engaged or employed in detecting lawbreakers or in getting information that is not readily or publicly accessible a police detective hired a private detective

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