\ ˈslüth How to pronounce sleuth (audio) \

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

Noun the popular TV sleuth lives a much more action-packed life than do his real-world counterparts
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Problem With Jax & Brittany's Pastor The story starts like this: When Brittany first announced her wedding officiant, internet sleuths started finding questionable posts on his social media. Lindsay Denninger,, "This Is Why Everyone’s Angry About Brittany & Jax’s Pastor On Vanderpump Rules," 11 Feb. 2020 With all the advancements of the last 15 years, including podcasts, blogs, and social media, Price believes that reaching an audience of citizen sleuths can only help in cases like Lucero’s. Grace Stetson, NBC News, "Mother and sister still searching for answers in Lucero 'Princess' Sarabia's Thanksgiving 2004 disappearance as 15th anniversary approaches," 30 Nov. 2019 The Hardly Boys: A pair of amateur sleuths who’ve been solving crimes since 1927. Washington Post, "Style Invitational Week 1351: What concept will you be for Halloween?," 26 Sep. 2019 Guest panelist Jason Biggs joined the show's resident sleuths Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke. Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, "A 'Masked Singer' e-llama-nation: The man inside the four-legged suit is revealed to be …," 6 Feb. 2020 Twitter sleuths quickly identified mysterious noises in clips of the team hitting. Popular Science, "The best way to steal signs in baseball," 28 Jan. 2020 Royal sleuths say the surprise move was foreshadowed by the couple's decision to bring their dogs with them on their Canadian holiday. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Dogs Have Reportedly Already Moved to Canada," 11 Jan. 2020 On social media, would-be sleuths also posted private-jet flight information on aircraft that left for Istanbul the same day that Ghosn may have left the country. Time, "How Did Fugitive Former Auto Executive Carlos Ghosn Escape Japan? Here Are a Few of the Theories," 2 Jan. 2020 Readers are ushered into darkened rooms where cyber-sleuths tease out bits of code and write programs to scan for malware matches, just as a detective might for fingerprints. Dina Temple-raston, Washington Post, "The ruthless Russian hacking unit that tried to crash Ukraine," 26 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the wake of the Dubai scandal, Ammann’s sleuthing uncovered two distinct players in the elephant-export racket. Paul Kvinta, Outside Online, "I Bought an Elephant to Find Out How to Save Them," 12 Nov. 2019 The organization was able to sleuth out who the money was from because the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had recently highlighted their work in an Instagram post. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Made a Big Donation in Baby Archie's Name," 22 Sep. 2019 The tests were designed to sleuth out the tastiest versions of meats or crops that were raised at far higher rates than they were consumed. Michael Waters, Smithsonian, "The Government Taste Testers Who Reshaped America’s Diet," 9 Aug. 2019 Over years of fieldwork, researchers found hundreds of specimens, and paleo sleuthing back at the Royal Ontario Museum allowed Moysiuk and Caron to come up with a detailed picture of the entire animal. Riley Black, Smithsonian, "Prehistoric Ocean Predator Resembles a Large and Vicious Horseshoe Crab," 31 July 2019 Poker allows researchers to test algorithmic strategies for dealing with the unknown and to build the foundations for software that can sleuth out fraud and deception in real-world settings. Daniela Hernandez, WSJ, "Computers Can Now Bluff Like a Poker Champ. Better, Actually.," 11 July 2019 Like Desperate Housewives, which began each season with a new mystery to untangle, Grand Hotel also sets up a puzzle that should keep fans guessing and characters perpetually sleuthing. Kaitlin Reilly,, "With Grand Hotel, Eva Longoria Puts More Women Behind The Camera — & More Man Candy In Front Of It," 15 June 2019 Obviously, Taylor's sleuthing fans know that nothing the singer does is without meaning, and many assumed that the typo was on purpose. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Taylor Swift’s New Merch is Going Viral and The Reason is Hilarious," 7 June 2019 Several sleuthing fans have pointed out an error on some of the singer’s new merchandise. Mekita Rivas,, "Taylor Swift's New Merch Has A Typo & Fans Have Questions," 6 June 2019

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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Time Traveler for sleuth

Time Traveler

The first known use of sleuth was in 1872

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Statistics for sleuth

Last Updated

25 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sleuth.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for sleuth


How to pronounce sleuth (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sleuth

old-fashioned : someone who looks for information to solve crimes

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More from Merriam-Webster on sleuth

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sleuth

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sleuth

Spanish Central: Translation of sleuth

Nglish: Translation of sleuth for Spanish Speakers

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