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detective

[dih-tek-tiv]
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noun
  1. a member of the police force or a private investigator whose function is to obtain information and evidence, as of offenses against the law.
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adjective
  1. of or relating to detection or detectives: a detective story.
  2. serving to detect; detecting: various detective devices.
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Origin of detective

First recorded in 1830–40; detect + -ive
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for detective

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The detective indulged himself in a cackle of sneering merriment.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Again, he saw the detective walking forward, out there in the corridor.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • And with the detective went a man whose gait was slinking, craven.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Detective Carpenter was seen, and the situation explained to him.

  • The Government had recalled all the men but five, who were left in charge of Detective Carpenter.


British Dictionary definitions for detective

detective

noun
    1. a police officer who investigates crimes
    2. See private detective
    3. (as modifier)a detective story
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adjective
  1. used in or serving for detection
  2. serving to detect
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for detective

n.

1850, short for detective police, from detective (adj.), 1843; see detect + -ive.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper