detective

adjective
de·​tec·​tive | \ di-ˈtek-tiv \

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 \ -​ˌlīk \ 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

In addition to Internet detective work regarding Jungkook's possible inspiration, some fans have mashed the clip together with other songs. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "BTS's Jungkook Strutting Down a Runway Is Now a Hilarious Meme," 17 Dec. 2018 Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes: When self-doubt creeps in, do some detective work. Samantha Boardman, Marie Claire, "How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome," 8 Nov. 2018 Employee Mike Storms did the detective work, guessing it was original given small keyholes at the inside edge of the pages that suggest they had once been bound by string. Maryclaire Dale, The Seattle Times, "Goodwill workers in NJ find original 1774 ‘rebel’ newspaper," 26 Oct. 2018 Sombra's detective work is needed now more than ever as Colombia wrestles with soaring coca production that is testing traditionally close relations with the United States. Manuel Rueda, Fox News, "Extraordinary drug dog worries Colombian cartel," 27 July 2018 The detectives' vehicle on the shoulder had its emergency lights on. Max Londberg, kansascity, "Police: KCK trucker killed in I-29 wreck involving cop cars was walking on highway," 30 June 2018 The son of a lawyer and a police detective, James, 48, burst into the public consciousness in... Hari Kunzru, WSJ, "Marlon James on Writing ‘Black Leopard, Red Wolf’," 28 Jan. 2019 Unfortunately, tattoo detectives hoping to solve the mysterious meaning of this ink will be unable to spot anything in the photo. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin Reportedly Got Matching Tattoos," 2 Jan. 2019 But in a superficial search of Gacy’s home, the receipt would be found by lead detective, Joseph Kozenczak. Courtney Lund O’neil, Harper's BAZAAR, "A Serial Killer, a Receipt, and My Mom: Haunted by the Murder of 33 Boys," 31 Oct. 2018

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

Last Updated

19 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 \

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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Comments on detective

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