Definition of clue in English:


Line breaks: clue
Pronunciation: /kluː


  • 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.

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