Definition of sleuth in English:

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Pronunciation: /sluːθ/


A detective: they make MI5 look like a bunch of amateur sleuths
More 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, detective, private investigator, investigator;
British  enquiry agent
informal private eye, PI, snoop, sleuth-hound
North American informal private dick, dick, peeper, shamus, gumshoe
informal, dated hawkshaw, sherlock
North American dated Pinkerton


[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): I am not sleuthing you
More 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

Line breaks: sleuth

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