\ 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

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, sleuthhound referred to 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 Like a modern-day movie version of the game Clue (shout-out to the bomb ’80s adaptation also), Rian Johnson’s Knives Out speaks directly to the sleuth inside all of us. Deanna Janes, Harper's BAZAAR, 5 May 2022 Like all connoisseurs, Weathers is a dedicated sleuth who never reveals her sources. Kyle Roderick, Forbes, 25 Mar. 2022 The series follows a gen Z amateur sleuth named Darby Hart (Corrin). Joe Otterson, Variety, 11 Feb. 2022 Heroes and Felons Toni Braxton returns as book lover, ex-con and amateur sleuth Hollis Morgan, who joins her fellow Fallen Angel Murder Club members in seeking answers to another member’s death in the newest installment of the mystery serial. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 9 Apr. 2022 Seventies run here as well, when Batman flipped back from being a campy crusader to a twilight sleuth extraordinaire. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 28 Feb. 2022 Several writers in recent years have resuscitated Raymond Chandler’s iconic Los Angeles sleuth Philip Marlowe. Tom Nolan, WSJ, 28 Jan. 2022 Smith, the online sleuth, said there is overwhelming evidence that Baskin and Farr were involved in Lewis’ disappearance. Rebecca Rosenberg, Fox News, 14 Feb. 2022 Doubling down on the mystery, Millie Bobby Brown reprises her role as Sherlock's baby sister in Enola Holmes 2, with Henry Cavill returning as the famous sleuth. Lester Fabian Brathwaite,, 3 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Since the start of the war, online users have tried to sleuth out the brands Zelenskyy relies on—with California label 5.11 and Austrian Carinthia products among his outfit staples. Tiffany Ap, Quartz, 9 May 2022 That's not to say that viewers should brace for a morose hour; in fact, the episode teems with frivolity and mystery, too, as Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and Madison (Caitlin Thompson) try to sleuth out whom Kevin spent the previous night with. Dan Snierson,, 19 Apr. 2022 In the past, Queen Charlotte hired Eloise to sleuth for Lady Whistledown leads and even accused her of being the gossip columnist in season 2. Samantha Olson, Seventeen, 1 Apr. 2022 Players were given 20 different repair orders and asked to sleuth out what specific part was causing the problem, fix it, and then test the fix on the road. Michael Thomsen, Wired, 13 Nov. 2021 Sometimes these creators sleuth to identify racists and people spreading disinformation about topics like the Covid vaccines. NBC News, 8 Oct. 2021 In other words, the challenge was on to sleuth out magical realms. Wendy Goodman, Curbed, 9 Mar. 2021 The easiest way to sleuth out the life cycle of a parasite is to present it with potential hosts, just as Dykman did with the worms in the kelp bass. Sabrina Imbler, The Atlantic, 16 Feb. 2021 Researchers have to sleuth out whether that fish could physically make that sound, either by listening to existing recordings or speculating how the fish’s sonic muscles might produce noise. Sabrina Imbler, New York Times, 10 Nov. 2020 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sleuth.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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