verb (used with object)

to discover or catch (a person) in the performance of some act: to detect someone cheating.
to discover the existence of: to detect the odor of gas.
to find out the true character or activity of: to detect a spy.
  1. to rectify alternating signal currents in a radio receiver.
  2. to demodulate.

Origin of detect

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin dētēctus (past participle of dētegere), equivalent to dē- de- + teg(ere) to cover + -tus past participle suffix
Related formsde·tect·a·ble, de·tect·i·ble, adjectivede·tect·a·bil·i·ty, de·tect·i·bil·i·ty, nounpre·de·tect, verb (used with object)un·de·tect·a·ble, adjectiveun·de·tect·a·bly, adverbun·de·tect·ed, adjectiveun·de·tect·i·ble, adjective

Synonym study

2. See learn. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for detectable

Contemporary Examples of detectable

Historical Examples of detectable

  • "Here," Tip answered, in a detectable imitation of Schroeder's voice.

    Space Prison

    Tom Godwin

  • It is detectable in every utterance of theirs when they are talking about us.

  • Then suddenly—for no detectable reason—conditions are reversed.

    Disturbing Sun

    Robert Shirley Richardson

  • "We can always depend on Johnny," said Paresi with no detectable emphasis at all.

    Breaking Point

    James E. Gunn

  • The beam is not detectable by your methods and, therefore, cannot be jammed.

    Diplomatic Immunity

    Robert Sheckley

British Dictionary definitions for detectable


verb (tr)

to perceive or noticeto detect a note of sarcasm
to discover the existence or presence of (esp something likely to elude observation)to detect alcohol in the blood
to extract information from (an electromagnetic wave)
obsolete to reveal or expose (a crime, criminal, etc)
Derived Formsdetectable or detectible, adjectivedetecter, noun

Word Origin for detect

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



early 15c., from Latin detectus, past participle of detegere "uncover, expose," figuratively "discover, reveal, disclose," from de- "un-, off" (see de-) + tegere "to cover" (see stegosaurus). Related: Detected; detecting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper