Definition of clue in English:

clue

noun

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

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

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

[WITH OBJECT]clue someone in
informal
  • Inform someone about a particular matter.

    ‘Stella had clued her in about Peter’
    • ‘I guess that education you're so proud of didn't clue you in on that one.’
    • ‘Someone clue me in, what is the man talking about?’
    • ‘Let me clue you in on something: We're not idiots.’
    • ‘I just clue him in every Friday with what's going on with me.’
    • ‘He clued me in to this local story with perhaps an international angle.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Thus, early on in my youth he clued me in to what the secret of success is: networking.’
    • ‘The opening sequence clues you in to the film's subversive stance.’
    • ‘Can anyone at least clue me in to what language these are in?’
    • ‘Which pretty much clues you in to her point of view.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And you can spot little things that clue you in to the way people really feel.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But the fact that she was with another man and quite plainly ignoring him should have clued him in a little.’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Another reader clues me in to the origins.’
    • ‘That probably should have clued me in that something was going on, or that something was going to go on.’
    inform, let know, notify, make aware, give information, prime
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Phrases

  • not have a clue

    • informal Know nothing about something or about how to do something.

      • ‘‘They don't have a clue what's going on down here,’ he added, referring to the federal government.’
      • ‘They don't have a clue about psychological damage.’
      • ‘It's just that when it comes to seeing how his policies affect people, he doesn't have a clue.’
      • ‘When he arrives for their prearranged breakfast date the next day, she doesn't have a clue who he is.’
      • ‘This crowd literally doesn't have a clue when it comes to fiscal matters.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It shows he doesn't have a clue about what's going on with our trade problem.’
      • ‘Other friends don't have a clue what the game's about.’
      • ‘Because many bright college students don't have a clue about the incredible variety of career paths that await them.’
      • ‘She doesn't have a clue how the world works, how her friends think, how her family thinks.’
      • ‘Some mornings I get up to write and don't have a clue what I'm going to say.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His heart may be in the right place, but he really doesn't have a clue about rugby league.’
      • ‘I don't have a clue what she's talking about, so I'm trusting her on this one.’
      • ‘Eight hundred stations are controlled by some guy that doesn't have a clue as to what to do about music.’
      • ‘The sad fact is that the party doesn't have a clue on how to govern.’
      • ‘We don't have a clue what he is saying but he looks angry.’
      • ‘Poor thing, he doesn't have a clue what it's like for us mere mortals.’
      • ‘I don't have a clue as to what that new resolution will actually say.’
      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

/klu//klo͞o/