\ 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


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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Internet sleuths are now, inevitably, speculating that the daughter in question could be Bella, who deleted her Instagram account this week. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Is Lori Loughlin’s Daughter Olivia Jade Now Under Investigation in Operation Varsity Blues?," 17 Apr. 2019 Grab a seat next to a fellow cheap eats sleuth and hold tight for those powdered pillows, preferably with a coconut smoothie in hand. Paul Oswell, Condé Nast Traveler, "Best Beignets in New Orleans," 4 Mar. 2018 Much thanks owed to eagle-eyed sleuth @ZhenZhen, who spotted the post on Instagram and reported it to me at once. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "This Week in Timothée Chalamet, August 17 Edition," 17 Aug. 2018 Jonathan Harris has gone from gubernatorial candidate to Ned Lamont’s sleuth. Neil Vigdor,, "Ned Lamont Ally Jonathan Harris Pores Over Joe Ganim's Primary Petitions," 28 June 2018 The internet sleuths are on the case and some are predicting an album release as soon as this Friday! Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "6 Signs That Taylor Swift is Coming Out with a New Album," 26 Feb. 2019 On the enforcement side, drug, cybercrime and money laundering sleuths are targeting major suppliers. Carla K. Johnson, The Seattle Times, "Q&A: Feds tackle opioid epidemic, but is it helping?," 28 Jan. 2019 Others, particularly those in Facebook sleuth groups, speculate that the Harts decided to end it all because of their debt (around $14,000). Glamour, "Broken Harts, Episode 7: 'Stone-Cold Narcissist'," 22 Jan. 2019 Motivated Twitter sleuths quickly unearthed several instances, ceasing after 2014, in which Norton posted tweets containing gay slurs and in at least two instances dropped the n-word. Aja Romano, Vox, "The “controversy” over journalist Sarah Jeong joining the New York Times, explained," 3 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

At least, that's what YouTuber Elle Tells concluded after sleuthing around social media, as reported by Revelist. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "It Looks Like Urban Decay's New Naked Cherry Palette Just Leaked on Social Media," 29 Aug. 2018 The Nancy Drew fan in me decided to sleuth around a bit. Country Living, "#11 The Mystery of the Disappearing Chard," 21 June 2011 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

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

6 May 2019

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Time Traveler for sleuth

The first known use of sleuth was in 1872

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More Definitions for sleuth



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sleuth

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sleuth

Spanish Central: Translation of sleuth

Nglish: Translation of sleuth for Spanish Speakers

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