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clue Line breaks: clue

Definition of clue in English:


1A piece of evidence or information used in the detection of a crime: police officers are still searching for clues
More example sentences
  • Detectives piecing together clues in the inquiry remain confident they will catch the attacker.
  • I reviewed all my efforts to make sure I hadn't missed even the slightest clue or piece of evidence.
  • So could the details of his business life provide a clue to the killing?
1.1A fact or idea that serves to reveal something or solve a problem: archaeological evidence can give clues about the past
More example sentences
  • The site does not publish contact details for the creators or reveal any other clues to the identity of the organisation.
  • She stared at the little card looking for clues that would reveal the identity of the sender.
  • A trawl of all her friends has revealed no clues as to where she has gone.
2A word or words giving an indication as to what is to be inserted in a particular space in a crossword: a long-pondered clue in a half-completed crossword
More example sentences
  • He ran the words through his mind, almost like a crossword clue.
  • Cryptic clues in the crossword may be stand-alone or a combination of any of the following nine types.
  • I still prefer the uncertainty and randomness of crossword clues.
question, problem, puzzle, riddle, poser, conundrum;
cryptic clue

verb (clues, clueing, clued)

[with object] (clue someone in) informal Back to top  
Inform someone about a particular matter: Stella had clued her in about Peter
More example sentences
  • But the fact that she was with another man and quite plainly ignoring him should have clued him in a little.
  • Perhaps someone should also clue her in that that if you're going to be dishonest you don't want to leave a paper trail behind.
  • For that matter, only the changing seasons clue us in to our geography.
inform, let know, notify, make aware, give information, prime;
familiarize with, make familiar with, acquaint with;
keep up to date, keep posted
informal tip off, give the gen, give the low-down on, give a rundown on/of, fill in on, gen up on, clue up, put in the picture, put wise, keep up to speed


have a clue
[usually with negative] informal Know about something or about how to do something: I didn’t have a clue what was happening
More example sentences
  • But he admits he doesn't have a clue what terms like ‘world music’ and ‘global music’ mean.
  • Our nice, but inexperienced, waiter explains to us that he is new and doesn't have a clue about the wine list, so we are left to peruse it whilst he fetches the aperitifs and the manageress.
  • Poor thing, he doesn't have a clue what it's like for us mere mortals.
have no idea, not have any idea, be ignorant, not have an inkling;
be puzzled, be perplexed, be bewildered, be baffled, be mystified, be at a loss, be (all) at sea
informal be clueless, not have the faintest


Late Middle English: variant of clew. The original sense was 'a ball of thread'; hence one used to guide a person out of a labyrinth. sense 1 of the noun dates from the early 17th century.

  • Our word clue is a modern spelling of the old word clew, ‘a ball of thread’. The idea here is of string or thread being used to guide a person out of a maze by tracing a path through it. The most famous example is that of the Greek hero Theseus, who killed the monstrous bull-headed Minotaur in its lair and then escaped from the Labyrinth, an underground maze of tunnels. This he was able to do because the princess Ariadne gave him a ball of twine, which he unravelled as he went in and followed back to find his way out again. From this a clue became anything that you can follow to get a solution.

Words that rhyme with clue

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