Definition of sleuth in English:

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Pronunciation: /slo͞oTH/


A detective.
Example sentences
  • The sleuth is usually an amateur or a consulting detective.
  • For years, the discovery was kept a strict secret until the amateur sleuths who uncovered the bodies officially announced their grisly find in 1991.
  • But in the meantime, if any amateur or professional sleuths are inclined to start digging, they might find some very interesting answers.
(private) detective, (private) investigator
informal private eye, snoop, shamus, gumshoe, (private) dick, PI


[no object] (often as noun sleuthing)
1Carry out a search or investigation in the manner of a detective: scientists began their genetic sleuthing for honey mushrooms four years ago
More example sentences
  • Les Vasey used to be a top Bradford policeman, sleuthing out villains, but since his retirement ten years ago his target has been the rise in sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Isabel, morally obliged to act, starts sleuthing.
  • In New York there's sleuthing for clues about a woman with long black hair and a frantic discussion of what might have happened to her.
1.1 [with object] dated Investigate (someone or something).
Example sentences
  • It's the tale of two contemporary literary academics sleuthing their way into a long lost love affair, and is utterly laden with coincidence.
  • But my mother and I, an unbeatable cross-country sleuthing duo, put a stop to the madness in less than two hours.
  • In reality it was not merely because a certain police detective was a racist and enjoyed sleuthing a popular boxer.


Middle English (originally in the sense 'track', in sleuth-hound): from Old Norse slóth; compare with slot2. Current senses date from the late 19th century.

  • A sleuth was first a sleuth-hound, a type of bloodhound employed in medieval Scotland for pursuing game or tracking fugitives. A tracker or detective has been a sleuth-hound since the mid 19th century, and shortly after that in the USA a simple sleuth. The word sleuth itself derives from Scandinavian, and its earliest meaning was ‘the track or trail of a person or animal’.

Words that rhyme with sleuth

buck tooth, couth, Duluth, forsooth, Maynooth, ruth, sooth, strewth, tooth, truth, youth

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sleuth

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