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plain clothes

or plainclothes

plural noun
clothing other than one's uniform, especially civilian clothes worn on duty by a police officer.
Origin of plain clothes
First recorded in 1815-25
Related forms
plain-clothes, plainclothes, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for plain clothes
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Behind him came Cassidy and two other detectives in plain clothes.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • On one of these nights the Captain of the Precinct was present in plain clothes.

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • Another agent of police, in plain clothes, entered and saluted.

    The White Lie William Le Queux
  • For two days I've had some of them following me round in plain clothes, and I'm tired of it.

    Frank Merriwell's Pursuit Burt L. Standish
  • I finds him in his room havin' a confab with two other plain clothes gents.

    Torchy and Vee Sewell Ford
  • Six men came into the room, two in uniform, the other four in plain clothes.

  • But nobody could possibly say that this gentleman was in plain clothes.

    What I Saw in America G. K. Chesterton
British Dictionary definitions for plain clothes

plain clothes

plural noun
  1. ordinary clothes, as distinguished from uniform, as worn by a police detective on duty
  2. (as modifier): a plain-clothes policeman
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 plain clothes

"ordinary dress" (as opposed to military uniform), 1822; of police detectives, it is attested from 1842. Also plainclothes.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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