a detective.
a bloodhound, a dog used for tracking.

verb (used with or without object)

to track or trail, as a detective.

Origin of sleuth

First recorded in 1875–80; short for sleuthhound
Related formssleuth·like, adjectivesu·per·sleuth, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sleuth

Contemporary Examples of sleuth

Historical Examples of sleuth

  • There was something very like the 194 sleuth in its attitude.

  • Never was there a sleuth with his heart in his business as mine will be.

    In Apple-Blossom Time

    Clara Louise Burnham

  • All we've got to do now is to play the sleuth when he leaves the cabin.

  • There wa'n't any need to do the sleuth act after Marjorie got started.


    Sewell Ford

  • "This," says the sleuth, haulin' out of his pocket a bulgy envelope.

British Dictionary definitions for sleuth



an informal word for detective


(tr) to track or follow

Word Origin for sleuth

C19: short for sleuthhound, from C12 sleuth trail, from Old Norse sloth; see slot ²
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 sleuth

c.1200, "track or trail of a person," from Old Norse sloð "trail," of uncertain origin. Meaning "detective" is 1872, shortening of sleuth-hound "keen investigator" (1849), a figurative use of a word that dates back to late 14c. meaning a kind of bloodhound. The verb (intransitive) meaning "to act as a detective, investigate" is recorded from 1905. Related: Sleuthed; sleuthing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper