Share this entry
clue Syllabification: clue

Definition of clue in English:


1A piece of evidence or information used in the detection of a crime or solving of a mystery: 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 as a guide or aid in a task or 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 verbal formula giving an indication as to what is to be inserted in a particular space in a crossword or other puzzle.
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

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, notify, make aware, prime;
keep up to date, keep posted
informal tip off, give the lowdown, fill in on, put in the picture, put wise, get/keep up to speed


not have a clue
informal Know nothing about something or about how to do something.
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, be ignorant, not have an inkling;
be baffled, be mystified, be at a loss
informal be clueless, not have the faintest/foggiest/slightest idea


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 (literally or figuratively). 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

accrue, adieu, ado, anew, Anjou, aperçu, askew, ballyhoo, bamboo, bedew, bestrew, billet-doux, blew, blue, boo, boohoo, brew, buckaroo, canoe, chew, clew, clou, cock-a-doodle-doo, cockatoo, construe, coo, Corfu, coup, crew, Crewe, cru, cue, déjà vu, derring-do, dew, didgeridoo, do, drew, due, endue, ensue, eschew, feu, few, flew, flu, flue, foreknew, glue, gnu, goo, grew, halloo, hereto, hew, Hindu, hitherto, how-do-you-do, hue, Hugh, hullabaloo, imbrue, imbue, jackaroo, Jew, kangaroo, Karroo, Kathmandu, kazoo, Kiangsu, knew, Kru, K2, kung fu, Lahu, Lanzhou, Lao-tzu, lasso, lieu, loo, Lou, Manchu, mangetout, mew, misconstrue, miscue, moo, moue, mu, nardoo, new, non-U, nu, ooh, outdo, outflew, outgrew, peekaboo, Peru, pew, plew, Poitou, pooh, pooh-pooh, potoroo, pursue, queue, revue, roo, roux, rue, Selous, set-to, shampoo, shih-tzu, shoe, shoo, shrew, Sioux, skean dhu, skew, skidoo, slew, smew, snafu, sou, spew, sprue, stew, strew, subdue, sue, switcheroo, taboo, tattoo, thereto, thew, threw, thro, through, thru, tickety-boo, Timbuktu, tiramisu, to, to-do, too, toodle-oo, true, true-blue, tu-whit tu-whoo, two, vendue, view, vindaloo, virtu, wahoo, wallaroo, Waterloo, well-to-do, whereto, whew, who, withdrew, woo, Wu, yew, you, zoo
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources