[ verb suh-spekt; noun suhs-pekt; adjective suhs-pekt, suh-spekt ]
See synonyms for: suspectsuspectedsuspectingsuspects on

verb (used with object)
  1. to believe to be guilty, false, counterfeit, undesirable, defective, bad, etc., with little or no proof: to suspect a person of murder.

  2. to doubt or mistrust: I suspect his motives.

  1. to believe to be the case or to be likely or probable; surmise: I suspect his knowledge did not amount to much.

  2. to have some hint or foreknowledge of: I think she suspected the surprise.

verb (used without object)
  1. to believe something, especially something evil or wrong, to be the case; have suspicion.

  1. a person who is suspected, especially one suspected of a crime, offense, or the like.

  2. an animal or thing that is suspected to be the cause of something bad: Investigators focused on faulty wiring as a suspect in the house fire.The cause of the disease was not confirmed, but the suspect was an insect.

  1. suspected; open to or under suspicion.

Idioms about suspect

  1. the usual suspects, the people, animals, or things that are commonly associated with a particular activity, situation, etc. (often used facetiously): We visited a family farm with sheep and bunnies and roosters and goats—the usual suspects!

Origin of suspect

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English (adjective) from Latin suspectus, past participle of suspicere “to look up, look and see, regard with mistrust,” equivalent to su- “under, below, beneath” + -spicere, combining form of specere “to see, observe, keep an eye on, take into consideration”; (verb) partly from the adjective, partly from Middle French suspecter “to hold suspect,” or directly from Latin suspectāre, frequentative of suspicere; see su-

Other words for suspect

Other words from suspect

  • sus·pect·i·ble, adjective
  • non·sus·pect, noun, adjective
  • pre·sus·pect, verb (used with object)
  • un·sus·pect·ing, adjective
  • un·sus·pect·ing·ly, adverb

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

How to use suspect in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for suspect


  1. (tr) to believe guilty of a specified offence without proof

  2. (tr) to think false, questionable, etc: she suspected his sincerity

  1. (tr; may take a clause as object) to surmise to be the case; think probable: to suspect fraud

  2. (intr) to have suspicion

  1. a person who is under suspicion

  1. causing or open to suspicion

Origin of suspect

C14: from Latin suspicere to mistrust, from sub- + specere to look

Derived forms of suspect

  • suspecter, noun
  • suspectless, adjective

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