Word of the Day : October 5, 2013




1 : to act as a detective : search for information

2 : 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, 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.


After I hung up the phone, I did some sleuthing to see if the caller's story had any credibility.

"Allen, whose PhD is in classical archaeology, shadowed spies and sleuthed in archives on three continents to piece together this true account of intrigue and espionage." - From an article in The Keene Sentinel (New Hampshire), July 11, 2013

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "malapert," our Word of the Day from September 7? The answer is …


play sleuth time wotd

'Sleuth' — Video Word of the Day 1/28/2019

verb - to search for information


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!