private investigator


Definition of private investigator

: a person not a member of a police force who is licensed to do detective work (such as investigation of suspected wrongdoing or searching for missing persons)

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Examples of private investigator in a Sentence

She hired a private investigator to follow her husband. the retired policeman decided to become a private investigator
Recent Examples on the Web The family’s private investigator Kevin Ryan told Dateline Dianna was identified by her tattoos. NBC News, "Body of 21-year-old pregnant woman Dianna Brice found in wooded lot in Southwest Philadelphia nearly week after disappearance," 6 Apr. 2021 Lucille hires private investigator Gene Parmesan (Martin Mull) to track down George Sr. Denise Martin, Vulture, "Arrested Development’s Jessica Walter on 5 Classic Lucille Bluth GIFs," 25 Mar. 2021 Marquez had been wanted for allegedly shooting a private investigator trying to take him into custody on a felony warrant March 15 and for allegedly shooting at police earlier this month, the Tribune reported. Fox News, "3 California police officers ID'd after 11-hour San Diego standoff left fugitive dead," 17 Apr. 2021 Authorities asked the public Tuesday for help in tracking down a felon suspected of shooting a private investigator and firing on police on separate occasions to evade arrest in the South Bay. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Authorities search for gunman accused of firing on private investigators, police," 6 Apr. 2021 After landing a job with a former FBI agent turned private investigator, Archer quickly becomes embroiled in political blackmail and scandal. Lesley Kennedy, CNN Underscored, "21 of the most anticipated new books to read this April," 1 Apr. 2021 The invasion of privacy case, meanwhile, had already collapsed over a complex scandal that left a private investigator hired by Gardner’s office charged with lying in a deposition, the Associated Press reported. Washington Post, "Eric Greitens resigned as Missouri governor over an affair and blackmail claims. Now he’s running for Senate.," 23 Mar. 2021 Prince Harry and Meghan are once again denouncing tabloid culture after a private investigator confessed to stealing the Duchess of Sussex’s personal information while on assignment for Britain’s the Sun. Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times, "Harry, Meghan decry ‘predatory’ tabloid practices as private investigator comes clean," 19 Mar. 2021 After hiring a private investigator, Woitel’s family said the homeless man claimed Woitel had been murdered. Dominic Fracassa, San Francisco Chronicle, "Missing S.F. man found dead in Mission District apartment building," 16 Feb. 2021

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

1940, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for private investigator

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The first known use of private investigator was in 1940

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Statistics for private investigator

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

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

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More Definitions for private investigator

private investigator


English Language Learners Definition of private investigator

: someone who works as a detective and who is not a member of a police force

private investigator


Legal Definition of private investigator

: a person not a member of a police force who is licensed to do detective work (as investigation of suspected wrongdoing or searching for missing persons)

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