a person or thing that detects.
a device for detecting smoke, fire, or some other hazardous condition.
a device for detecting the presence of metal, contraband, or other items that might be hidden or concealed.
  1. a device for detecting electric oscillations or waves.
  2. a device, as a crystal detector or a vacuum tube, that rectifies the alternating current in a radio receiver.

Origin of detector

1535–45; < Late Latin dētēctor revealer, equivalent to Latin dēteg(ere) to uncover, reveal (see detect) + -tor -tor Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for detector

radar, pointer, locater, spotter, discoverer, warner, revealer

Examples from the Web for detector

Historical Examples of detector

  • Edwardson asked, over the clamor of the Detector alarm bell.

    The Hour of Battle

    Robert Sheckley

  • The detector, although the most important of the instruments, is perhaps the simplest.

    Boy Scouts Handbook

    Boy Scouts of America

  • But of course they didn't have our detector screens nor our armament.


    Edward Elmer Smith

  • It looped and turned, hunting, feeling with its every detector for that other ship.

    The Black Star Passes

    John W Campbell

  • His detector now was in his hand, but Halsey anticipated him by a second or two.

    Wandl the Invader

    Raymond King Cummings

British Dictionary definitions for detector



a person or thing that detects
any mechanical sensing device
electronics a device used in the detection of radio signals
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 detector

1540s, from Latin detector "uncoverer, revealer," agent noun from detectus, past participle of detegere (see detect).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper