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Syllabification: clue
Pronunciation: /klo͞o

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


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.


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

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