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90s Slang You Should Know


[guhm-shoo] /ˈgʌmˌʃu/
Slang. a detective.
a shoe made of gum elastic or India rubber; rubber overshoe.
sneaker (def 1).
verb (used without object), gumshoed, gumshoeing.
  1. to work as a detective.
  2. to go softly, as if wearing rubber shoes; move or act snoopily or stealthily.
Origin of gumshoe
An Americanism dating back to 1860-65; gum1 + shoe Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for gumshoe
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But theres nothing I can do; Im in with gumshoe worse than ever.

    Deering of Deal Latta Griswold
  • Mr. Pepper don't like the idea, though, of doin' the gumshoe sneak.

    Torchy Sewell Ford
  • Why, honest, Reggie, even the gumshoe just eats out of his hand.

    Deering of Deal Latta Griswold
  • And consider the appropriateness of the figures of speech, as gumshoe would say.

    Deering of Deal Latta Griswold
  • Lets whoop her up for gumshoe, and avoid any daffy questions about being quizzled by the Head.

    Deering of Deal Latta Griswold
  • To heck with the gumshoe; bounds are off for the afternoon anyway.

    Deering of Deal Latta Griswold
  • I'm sure the gumshoe when it comes to pipin' a man off so's I got his photograph in my eye.

    Under Handicap Jackson Gregory
British Dictionary definitions for gumshoe


a waterproof overshoe
(US & Canadian) a rubber-soled shoe
(US & Canadian, slang) a detective or one who moves about stealthily
(US & Canadian, slang) a stealthy action or movement
verb -shoes, -shoeing, -shoed
(intransitive) (US & Canadian, slang) to act stealthily
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
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Word Origin and History for gumshoe

"plainclothes detective," 1906, from the rubber-soled shoes they wore (which were so called from 1863); from gum (n.1) + shoe (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for gumshoe



(Variations: gum boot or gumfoot or gumheel or gumshoe man) A police officer, esp a detective or plainclothes officer: It made him a good gumshoe


  1. (also gumheel) To work as a police officer or detective: Still gumheeling?
  2. o walk a police beat: Police now ride prowl cars instead of gumshoeing around the block
  3. To walk quietly and stealthily

[1906+; fr gumshoe, ''rubber-soled shoe'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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