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private eye

noun, Slang.
a private detective.
Origin of private eye
1935-40; eye, allusive phonetic rendering of I, abbreviation of investigator Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for private eye
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In his pocket was a great bunch of newspaper clippings, intended for the private eye of the new Mrs. De Foe's one-time secretary.

    The Alternative George Barr McCutcheon
  • I felt like flashing a twenty at him like a private eye did in the old tough-books, but I knew it wouldn't work.

    Highways in Hiding George Oliver Smith
  • Morays professions to Elizabeth may have been a blind, but his letters for Marys private eye have a more genuine air.

British Dictionary definitions for private eye

private eye

(informal) a private detective
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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Slang definitions & phrases for private eye

private dick

noun phrase

A private detective; a private investigator; pi (entry form 1908+, variant 1938+)

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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Idioms and Phrases with private eye

private eye

A privately employed detective, as opposed to one working for the police or another authority. For example, The children loved stories about private eyes, and Janey wanted to become one. This expression comes from the term private investigator, the “i” of investigator being changed to “eye,” which plays on the idea of a person looking into things. [ 1930s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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