gum·​shoe | \ ˈgəm-ˌshü How to pronounce gumshoe (audio) \

Definition of gumshoe

 (Entry 1 of 2)


gumshoed; gumshoeing

Definition of gumshoe (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to engage in detective work

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of gumshoe in a Sentence

Noun the suspicious wife paid a gumshoe to follow her husband
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The artwork introduces Cooper's new persona, a fedora-wearing gumshoe named Maurice Escargot. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, "From 'Love it to Death' to 'Detroit Stories': The best Alice Cooper albums ranked," 16 Mar. 2021 The Mystery of the Carnival Caper (1998) enabled me to live out my girl-gumshoe dreams. Drew Dakessian, Wired, "The ‘Girl Games’ of the ’90s Were Fun and Feminist," 2 Mar. 2021 The 70-year-old gumshoe reportedly cracked his head on the pavement outside his Haight-Ashbury home when muggers yanked a new camera from around his neck Thursday. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, "Suspect arrested for attacking Bill Clinton's former private detective Jack Palladino," 31 Jan. 2021 Ultimately, the judge decided to keep the gumshoe locked up pending trial. Mario Ariza,, "Private eye swindles millions from Boca Raton woman, prosecutors say," 8 Dec. 2020 An amateur gumshoe, following the woozy clinking of the out-of-tune jingle, caught up with him near a park in Cobble Hill. Zach Helfand, The New Yorker, "When the Ice-Cream Man Goes Rogue," 24 Aug. 2020 McCloskey is Paul Drake in a world of CSI, a gumshoe investigator without a lab. Barbara Bradley Hagerty, Washington Post, "Taking on the hardest cases — without DNA — and setting the innocent free," 7 Aug. 2020 Bertin and Forbes ditch most of the gumshoes, sending just a pair of them (Pauline, jut-jawed Brennan) on a fresh and equally loopy adventure. New York Times, "In These Elegant Comics, Love and Darkness Collide," 14 Feb. 2020 Mystery games give everyday gumshoes an opportunity to practice their sleuthing, or evade capture by role-playing the suspect. Popular Science, "Fun mystery games to help solve your boredom," 8 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gumshoe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of gumshoe


1913, in the meaning defined above


1930, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gumshoe

Time Traveler for gumshoe

Time Traveler

The first known use of gumshoe was in 1913

See more words from the same year

Statistics for gumshoe

Last Updated

24 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gumshoe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for gumshoe



English Language Learners Definition of gumshoe

US, informal + old-fashioned : a person whose job is to find information about someone or something : a private detective

More from Merriam-Webster on gumshoe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gumshoe Encyclopedia article about gumshoe

Comments on gumshoe

What made you want to look up gumshoe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!