[ dih-tek-tiv ]
/ dɪˈtɛk tɪv /


a member of the police force or a private investigator whose function is to obtain information and evidence, as of offenses against the law.


of or relating to detection or detectives: a detective story.
serving to detect; detecting: various detective devices.

Origin of detective

First recorded in 1830–40; detect + -ive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for detective

British Dictionary definitions for detective

/ (dɪˈtɛktɪv) /


  1. a police officer who investigates crimes
  2. See private detective
  3. (as modifier)a detective story


used in or serving for detection
serving to detect
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