\ˈslüth \

Definition of sleuth 

(Entry 1 of 2)


sleuthed; sleuthing; sleuths

Definition of sleuth (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to act as a detective : search for information

transitive verb

: to search for and discover

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Did You Know?


They were the footprints of a gigantic hound! Those canine tracks in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles set the great Sherlock Holmes sleuthing on the trail of a murderer. It was a case of art imitating etymology. When Middle English speakers first borrowed sleuth from Old Norse, the term referred to "the track of an animal or person." In Scotland, a sleuthhound was a bloodhound used to hunt game or track down fugitives from justice. In 19th century U.S. English, sleuthhound became an epithet for a detective and was soon shortened to sleuth. From there, it was only a short leap to turning sleuth into a verb describing what a sleuth does.

Examples of sleuth in a Sentence


the popular TV sleuth lives a much more action-packed life than do his real-world counterparts

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Some online sleuths quickly found that the numbers had a special meaning — not just to Grande, but to fiancé Pete Davidson., "Ariana Grande's New Tattoo Is Very Meaningful To Pete Davidson," 1 July 2018 But even after diligent online sleuths identified Pistolis in photos and video from Charlottesville, the Marine denied his involvement. Michael Harriot, The Root, "Active-Duty Marine Moonlights as Leader of Violent White Supremacist Group: Report," 8 May 2018 The unusual chain of events began with the work of one determined sleuth, a British anesthesiologist named John Carlisle. Samantha Schmidt, ajc, "Why a major paper on the Mediterranean diet was just retracted and replaced," 14 June 2018 The point is, despite feverish efforts by social media sleuths, budding celebrity romances are often left a mystery. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "What’s Going on With Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson? Check Instagram," 15 June 2018 She's been famous for more than a decade, first for playing a high school sleuth on the hit TV show Veronica Mars, then for roles in comedies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Couples Retreat. Monica Corcoran Harel, Redbook, "Kristen Bell Confesses She's Not a Perfect Mom or Wife," 12 July 2016 And, Instagram sleuths will know Bamba has been working with Drew Hanlen, who also works with Embiid and Markelle Fultz. Ej Smith,, "Video: Joel Embiid dunks over Orlando Magic rookie Mo Bamba in a pickup game, welcomes him to the NBA," 28 June 2018 Additional intrigues involve a teenage sleuth who poses as her own brother. Patrick Friel, Chicago Reader, "Film / Foreign / On Video / Small Screen The weird world of Guy Maddin," 1 May 2018 Twitter sleuths have already seized the trail, with more than 1,000 following, in essence, nothing. Ira Winderman,, "Inside the stealth (but not burner) Twitter account of Pat Riley," 24 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But that's not all some social media sleuthing revealed. Lindsey V Thompson, Teen Vogue, "Bella Hadid and The Weeknd Spotted Hanging Out in Paris," 1 June 2018 But Young’s sister had done her homework to ensure she’d made the right choice, sleuthing out the breed Young was partial to and even catching him in conversation about dog names. Nancy Kruh,, "Meet Chris Young's Adorable Puppy, Porter: 'He Might Lick You to Death!'," 8 May 2018 Doty and her colleagues are now sleuthing out the gene that enables PDN3 to accomplish this feat. Leslie Nemo, Scientific American, "Treating Toxins with Tree Microbes," 1 Nov. 2017 They were sold two years ago, but in the meantime, Trevor had sleuthed a rustic compound based around an honest-to-goodness Craftsman Sears kit house of the sort that sprang up all across America at the turn of the century. Oberto Gili, Vogue, "Napa of Another Time: Restoring a 100-Year-Old Home in Wine Country," 18 Jan. 2018 The birth of eBay signaled an entirely new way of sleuthing out vintage gear. Nick Sullivan, Esquire, "Vintage Expert Sean Crowley Shares His Tips for Scoring the Perfect Find," 5 Jan. 2018 Cincinnati's bus system by the numbers Wochit Troy Miller has been sleuthing Greater Cincinnati's main public transportation agency for years, certainly long before SORTA recently found $8 million just sitting around in its bank account. Jason Williams,, "PX: SORTA leader pushes sales tax in Hamilton County – even though he votes in Texas," 15 Feb. 2018 And despite finally learning the name of Kylie's new baby — Stormi Webster — the Internet still cannot stop sleuthing for hints about the origin of the unique moniker. Melissa Minton, Teen Vogue, "Stormi Webster's Name Might Be Connected to Butterflies After All," 8 Feb. 2018 Barron and a team of researchers have spent years sleuthing around the Vatican library, the immense General Archive of the Indies, in Seville, Spain, and in small churches and libraries scattered throughout Latin America. Laura Millan Lombrana,, "He Struck It Rich in Ecuador. Now He’s Looking for the Lost Cities of Gold," 20 Dec. 2017

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


1872, in the meaning defined above


1900, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for sleuth


short for sleuthhound

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Statistics for sleuth

Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sleuth

The first known use of sleuth was in 1872

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English Language Learners Definition of sleuth

: someone who looks for information to solve crimes

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