Definition of clue in English:

clue

nounPlural clues

  • 1A piece of evidence or information used in the detection of a crime.

    ‘police officers are still searching for clues’
    • ‘From Lestrade's demeanour, I could tell it was a murder case and this paper could hold the clue to solving it.’
    • ‘But he said none of them could offer clues that would help the police in their investigations.’
    • ‘The only clues were tiny marks round his neck, too small to have been made by an adult.’
    • ‘A mobile phone found under a Blackpool pier could hold a clue to the whereabouts of a missing man.’
    • ‘Police hope it will jog the memory of a new witness who may hold a clue to the identity of her killer.’
    • ‘A team of detectives are trying to piece together clues to find a man who subjected a woman to a terrifying attack in the town centre.’
    • ‘London's police chief said forensic material had been gathered that could provide key clues to solving the case.’
    • ‘Police are studying security camera footage, which may give a clue to the identity of the attackers.’
    • ‘It took five months, but she was given a clue that finally led to the arrest of the man responsible.’
    • ‘I reviewed all my efforts to make sure I hadn't missed even the slightest clue or piece of evidence.’
    • ‘The intelligence services have already been heavily criticised for failing to act on a series of clues that might have led them to the hijackers.’
    • ‘I think the writer did a good job describing how everyone worked together to build up clues and solve the case.’
    • ‘Shouldn't he be collecting clues to help solve this inhuman act of animal slaughter?’
    • ‘Forensic examinations had revealed clues to the bombers' identities.’
    • ‘Detectives piecing together clues in the inquiry remain confident they will catch the attacker.’
    • ‘Police need clues as to which direction the robber fled in.’
    • ‘DNA gathered from one attack could provide a clue to the man's origins.’
    • ‘But before he died he left a clue, a complicated code, which police believe they may be able to crack.’
    • ‘The only clue to the crime was an ordinary-looking piece of plastic - but within four hours John had his man.’
    • ‘So could the details of his business life provide a clue to the killing?’
    hint, indication, sign, signal, pointer, guide, suggestion, intimation, trace, indicator
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    1. 1.1 A fact or idea that serves to reveal something or solve a problem.
      ‘archaeological evidence can give clues about the past’
      • ‘I looked back at her, searching her face for a clue to her sudden distress.’
      • ‘The site does not publish contact details for the creators or reveal any other clues to the identity of the organisation.’
      • ‘Could it be a clue to how the Ancient Greeks produced those massive bronze statues?’
      • ‘Layers within the ice caps could someday reveal clues to Mars's climactic history.’
      • ‘Some harsh economic facts, meanwhile, provide sufficient clues to the state of affairs.’
      • ‘But it also gives a clue to why there is such a paucity of women at the top in car sales.’
      • ‘She stared at the little card looking for clues that would reveal the identity of the sender.’
      • ‘A trawl of all her friends has revealed no clues as to where she has gone.’
      • ‘Every item people leave around the house is assumed to be a clue to what sort of person they are.’
      • ‘The title of his exhibition provides a clue to the meaning of his work.’
      • ‘She looked around the room, searching for a clue to the whereabouts of this person.’
      • ‘Scientists think the findings may provide a clue to why moderate alcohol consumption is good for the heart.’
      • ‘Painstaking scientific analysis of the picture has now revealed crucial clues about the image.’
      • ‘Examining her eyes for thyroid associated ophthalmopathy may give a clue to the underlying cause.’
      • ‘His account of Defoe's popular success is a clue to his own writerly ambitions.’
      • ‘The stunning cover of this mysterious novel provides a clue to its structure.’
      • ‘This deserves investigation as a clue to early developmental influences on asthma.’
      • ‘She could feel his gaze on her, watching her, searching her for a clue to her earlier behaviour.’
      • ‘She looked at the other woman, searching the tatters of her memory for a clue to the stranger's identity, but there were none.’
      • ‘This was the only clue to his past that he could think of, a watch that he had worn since he could remember.’
      hint, indication, sign, signal, pointer, guide, suggestion, intimation, trace, indicator
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  • 2A word or words giving an indication as to what is to be inserted in a particular space in a crossword.

    ‘a long-pondered clue in a half-completed crossword’
    • ‘Here are twenty cryptic clues, the answers to which are the numbers from one to twenty.’
    • ‘I still prefer the uncertainty and randomness of crossword clues.’
    • ‘A crossword is just a set of blank spaces, so how did he know the clue referred to him?’
    • ‘Players win cards and answer clues as they move round the board and try to collect all the right letters to make up their secret word.’
    • ‘It's not even a good pun, which, like a good crossword clue, should work on both the superficial and the cryptic levels.’
    • ‘He would even interrupt classes to ask teachers to solve the crossword clues that he could not solve.’
    • ‘Cryptic clues in the crossword may be stand-alone or a combination of any of the following nine types.’
    • ‘Each of the clues below spells out a different word, but can you work out what each word is?’
    • ‘This is as near as anyone gets to talking in crossword clues.’
    • ‘In the second round cryptic clues will be provided and a crossword puzzle will have to be cracked.’
    • ‘He also taught him the knack of solving cryptic clues in crossword puzzles.’
    • ‘He ran the words through his mind, almost like a crossword clue.’
    • ‘I love crosswords - I love the cryptic clues and the obscure quotes from Shakespeare and all the rest.’
    question, problem, puzzle, riddle, poser, conundrum
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verbclues, clueing, clued

[with object]clue someone in
informal
  • Inform someone about a particular matter.

    ‘Stella had clued her in about Peter’
    • ‘Thus, early on in my youth he clued me in to what the secret of success is: networking.’
    • ‘Which pretty much clues you in to her point of view.’
    • ‘Perhaps someone should also clue her in that that if you're going to be dishonest you don't want to leave a paper trail behind.’
    • ‘For that matter, only the changing seasons clue us in to our geography.’
    • ‘Sure, I'll clue you in, I'll tell you where the real magic lies.’
    • ‘But the fact that she was with another man and quite plainly ignoring him should have clued him in a little.’
    • ‘Let me clue you in on something: We're not idiots.’
    • ‘From the opening line of the film he has a twinkle in his eye that clues you in that this movie is going to be fun.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, labels at this time do not tell us the content of trans-fats in the product, but the words ‘partially hydrogenated ‘will clue you in.’’
    • ‘As a handbook it clues us in to those criteria by which the guild of artists judge their works, thereby helping us all appreciate art better.’
    • ‘That probably should have clued me in that something was going on, or that something was going to go on.’
    • ‘Can anyone at least clue me in to what language these are in?’
    • ‘Someone clue me in, what is the man talking about?’
    • ‘Another reader clues me in to the origins.’
    • ‘He clued me in to this local story with perhaps an international angle.’
    • ‘I just clue him in every Friday with what's going on with me.’
    • ‘And you can spot little things that clue you in to the way people really feel.’
    • ‘Here's your chance to tap into the inner-workings of Congress by clicking onto this fun, interactive, and irreverent site that clues you in to everything you ever wanted to know about Congress.’
    • ‘The opening sequence clues you in to the film's subversive stance.’
    • ‘I guess that education you're so proud of didn't clue you in on that one.’
    inform, let know, notify, make aware, give information, prime
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Phrases

  • have a clue

    • informal usually with negativeKnow about something or about how to do something.

      ‘I didn't have a clue what was happening’
      • ‘But he admits he doesn't have a clue what terms like ‘world music’ and ‘global music’ mean.’
      • ‘I get the impression her daughter doesn't have a clue what she does.’
      • ‘I don't have a clue as to what that new resolution will actually say.’
      • ‘Our nice, but inexperienced, waiter explains to us that he is new and doesn't have a clue about the wine list, so we are left to peruse it whilst he fetches the aperitifs and the manageress.’
      • ‘This crowd literally doesn't have a clue when it comes to fiscal matters.’
      • ‘It shows he doesn't have a clue about what's going on with our trade problem.’
      • ‘The sad fact is that the party doesn't have a clue on how to govern.’
      • ‘When he arrives for their prearranged breakfast date the next day, she doesn't have a clue who he is.’
      • ‘I don't have a clue what she's talking about, so I'm trusting her on this one.’
      • ‘Other friends don't have a clue what the game's about.’
      • ‘We don't have a clue what he is saying but he looks angry.’
      • ‘‘They don't have a clue what's going on down here,’ he added, referring to the federal government.’
      • ‘Eight hundred stations are controlled by some guy that doesn't have a clue as to what to do about music.’
      • ‘Some mornings I get up to write and don't have a clue what I'm going to say.’
      • ‘Because many bright college students don't have a clue about the incredible variety of career paths that await them.’
      • ‘It's just that when it comes to seeing how his policies affect people, he doesn't have a clue.’
      • ‘Poor thing, he doesn't have a clue what it's like for us mere mortals.’
      • ‘They don't have a clue about psychological damage.’
      • ‘His heart may be in the right place, but he really doesn't have a clue about rugby league.’
      • ‘She doesn't have a clue how the world works, how her friends think, how her family thinks.’
      have no idea, not have any idea, be ignorant, not have an inkling
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Origin

Late Middle English: variant of clew. The original sense was ‘a ball of thread’; hence one used to guide a person out of a labyrinth. clue (sense 1 of the noun) dates from the early 17th century.

Pronunciation

clue

/kluː/