[ dih-tekt ]
See synonyms for: detectdetecteddetecting on

verb (used with object)
  1. to discover or catch (a person) in the performance of some act: to detect someone cheating.

  2. to discover the existence of: to detect the odor of gas.

  1. to find out the true character or activity of: to detect a spy.

  2. Telecommunications.

    • to rectify alternating signal currents in a radio receiver.

    • to demodulate.

Origin of detect

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English, from Latin dētēctus “discovered,” past participle of dētegere “to uncover, discover,” from dē- de- + tegere “to cover”; see also thatch

Other words from detect

  • de·tect·a·ble, de·tect·i·ble, adjective
  • de·tect·a·bil·i·ty, de·tect·i·bil·i·ty, noun
  • pre·de·tect, verb (used with object)
  • un·de·tect·a·ble, adjective
  • un·de·tect·a·bly, adverb
  • un·de·tect·ed, adjective
  • un·de·tect·i·ble, adjective

Words Nearby detect Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use detect in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for detect


/ (dɪˈtɛkt) /

  1. to perceive or notice: to detect a note of sarcasm

  2. to discover the existence or presence of (esp something likely to elude observation): to detect alcohol in the blood

  1. to extract information from (an electromagnetic wave)

  2. obsolete to reveal or expose (a crime, criminal, etc)

Origin of detect

C15: from Latin dētectus uncovered, from dētegere to uncover, from de- + tegere to cover

Derived forms of detect

  • detectable or detectible, adjective
  • detecter, noun

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