Definition of whodunit
: a detective story or mystery story
whodunit was our Word of the Day on 05/18/2015. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
In 1930, Donald Gordon, a book reviewer for News of Books, needed to come up with something to say about a rather unremarkable mystery novel called Half-Mast Murder. "A satisfactory whodunit," he wrote. The coinage played fast and loose with spelling and grammar, but "whodunit" caught on anyway. Other writers tried respelling it "who-done-it," and one even insisted on using "whodidit," but those sanitized versions lacked the punch of the original and have fallen by the wayside. "Whodunit" became so popular that by 1939 at least one language pundit had declared it "already heavily overworked" and predicted it would "soon be dumped into the taboo bin." History has proven that prophecy false, and "whodunit" is still going strong.
Origin and Etymology of whodunit
alteration of who done it?
First Known Use: 1929
WHODUNIT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of whodunit for English Language Learners
: a novel, play, or movie about a murder where you do not know who committed the murder until the end
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