Definition of suspect in English:



  • 1Have an idea or impression of the existence, presence, or truth of (something) without certain proof.

    ‘if you suspect a gas leak, do not turn on an electric light’
    [with clause] ‘she suspected that he might be bluffing’
    ‘a suspected heart condition’
    • ‘Observers have always suspected that the government does not really take the sports portfolio very seriously.’
    • ‘It's not a bad idea but I suspect it'll take a crisis such as a property crash to make people change their habits.’
    • ‘Therefore, precautions should always be taken if the presence of asbestos is suspected.’
    • ‘He was somebody you would trust implicitly and we never suspected what he was doing.’
    • ‘I've no idea why, though I suspect it's got something to do with the temperature of the beverage.’
    • ‘I suspect this snow will make the idea of watching an excellent film in a warm cinema all the more appealing.’
    • ‘Given the obvious press presence in that shop, I suspect his boss will be hearing a lot more about it, and soon.’
    • ‘If a doctor suspects meningitis he or she will refer the person affected to hospital.’
    • ‘I strongly suspect there's something wrong with it for a number of reasons.’
    • ‘If you suspect a heart attack, even if it feels like indigestion, act immediately.’
    • ‘I knew that she liked me, but I never suspected what was about to happen.’
    • ‘Many suspected cases of heart failure will be seen in primary care that require the diagnosis to be excluded.’
    • ‘Lansky called on women to go to the hospital as soon as they suspect the symptoms of heart attack.’
    • ‘The police strongly suspected that he had fallen in the nearby harbor, but couldn't locate the body.’
    • ‘The existence of such facilities has been suspected for some time.’
    • ‘Many scientists even suspect that the high frequency of earthquakes in recent years might also be related to global warming.’
    • ‘Immunoglobulin may also be given if the bat is known or strongly suspected to be rabid.’
    • ‘Police suspect there are one or more groups of robbers operating in the area.’
    • ‘Your doctor might suspect heart failure based on your medical history, symptoms, and a physical exam.’
    • ‘Cases of this type include suspected heart attacks, broken limbs and appendicitis.’
    have a suspicion, have a feeling, feel, be inclined to think, fancy, reckon, guess, surmise, conjecture, think, think it likely, think it probable, have a sneaking feeling, have a hunch
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Believe or feel that (someone) is guilty of an illegal, dishonest, or unpleasant act, without certain proof.
      ‘parents suspected of child abuse’
      • ‘What could be more straightforward than telling a person he is suspected of a crime?’
      • ‘The court held that the person ought to be told that he or she was suspected of being over age, and be given a chance to explain his or her position.’
      • ‘Is he not a man against whom a certificate of risk has been issued because he is suspected of terrorist activities?’
      • ‘He is suspected of having reported the bugged conversations to his superiors on a regular basis.’
      • ‘Cairns said the students are not suspected of any wrongdoing.’
      • ‘Parents were wrongly suspected of abuse because of staff attitudes.’
      • ‘He was also suspected of being involved in a gang dealing heroin in the area.’
      • ‘I was suspected of being the leader of these people, and I needed a way to throw them off of my trail.’
      • ‘How could they suspect him when they believed that he received revelations from on high?’
      • ‘He is suspected of being one of the largest importers of drugs into Ireland.’
      • ‘It ought to be said here that I was never suspected of anything, nor would there have been a reason to.’
      • ‘Even if you are not suspected of a crime, you can be imprisoned for two years if you fail to disclose a computer password or encryption key.’
      • ‘He said that he did not suspect Taylor but suggested that Kelly may have been responsible for the presence of the drugs.’
      • ‘He is suspected of breaking Japanese laws prohibiting unauthorised computer access.’
      • ‘Tom is suspected of dealing in stolen goods but the police have found it difficult to get evidence against him.’
      • ‘Only a handful of those held are suspected of involvement in the terror attacks.’
      • ‘He is suspected to have infected a company security guard with the virus.’
      • ‘He is suspected of avenging himself on women if they reject him.’
      • ‘He was also suspected of keeping some of the proceeds of one cigarette robbery.’
      • ‘It is quite right that a British citizen should not be harassed by the state if he or she is not suspected of wrongdoing.’
      regard as guilty, think to be guilty, regard as a wrongdoer
      View synonyms
  • 2Doubt the genuineness or truth of.

    ‘a broker whose honesty he had no reason to suspect’
    • ‘There wasn't any particular reason to suspect anything, I thought.’
    doubt, distrust, mistrust, have doubts about, harbour suspicions about, have misgivings about, be sceptical about, have qualms about, be suspicious of, be wary of, feel chary about, feel uneasy about, harbour reservations about, have reservations about, have a funny feeling about
    View synonyms


  • A person thought to be guilty of a crime or offense.

    ‘the police have arrested a suspect’
    • ‘Why does it take 26 armed police units to detain one terrorist suspect?’
    • ‘They hope the tests will help them in their arrest of the prime suspect in the murder.’
    • ‘It would not be permissible for the police to take the victim of a crime to a suspect who was under arrest to see if he could identify him.’
    • ‘Britain has consistently refused to extradite terror suspects to any country, including America, that has the death penalty.’
    • ‘Police arrested two suspects in connection with the thefts.’
    • ‘Four Algerian terror suspects were arrested in Manchester today.’
    • ‘He is the prime suspect in a crime he didn't commit, though most believe he did.’
    • ‘The main purpose is to match a person, such as a suspect, with a crime scene.’
    • ‘Four suspects have been detained and two were remanded into custody after weapons were found during a house search.’
    • ‘A wild ride in Southern California has landed three robbery suspects in custody.’
    • ‘She told police that the suspect fled on foot after making the threat.’
    • ‘The Israeli government has identified 23 suspects in the killings.’
    • ‘The other four suspects were arrested in Rotterdam at the end of July.’
    • ‘Fewer than 5 percent of all calls dispatched to police are made soon enough for officers to stop a crime or arrest a suspect.’
    • ‘He said police knew the murder suspects but no arrest would be effected until the director of public prosecutions came to a decision.’
    • ‘Why do the police want to detain terror suspects for 90 days?’
    • ‘After the police arrested a suspect, they would have him recite the same words into a tape recorder.’
    • ‘Police have arrested more than 40 suspects in the two terrorist attacks.’
    • ‘Police have detained a number of suspects in connection with the incident.’
    • ‘Police said they questioned three people in connection with the kidnapping so far, and had identified two key suspects.’
    suspected person, accused, defendant
    View synonyms


  • Not to be relied on or trusted; possibly dangerous or false.

    ‘a suspect package was found on the platform’
    • ‘Upon being searched, it was established that they were carrying a number of suspect packages.’
    • ‘Look, I know it's an evil victory, ideologically suspect in many ways.’
    • ‘On that occasion, the suspect package leaking white powder sparked a full-scale operation.’
    • ‘I remember the bomb scares and the security alerts and the panic over suspect packages.’
    • ‘Since Friday we've had a number of people coming up to us in the street, telling us about suspect packages.’
    • ‘As a result, the ad is highly misleading, as it rests on highly suspect premises.’
    • ‘Moreover, there are plenty of private schools for low-income students whose educational rigor is deeply suspect.’
    • ‘Any religion that depended on a drug for its spiritual high would be highly suspect.’
    • ‘Indeed, the whole idea of an agricultural revolution is now regarded as highly suspect.’
    • ‘Since the events of September 11, and with the ambiguous source of anthrax attacks, there have been concerns of suspect packages.’
    • ‘Some officer workers passed the time enjoying the sunshine and making bets with each other over whether the suspect package contained ham or cheese sandwiches.’
    • ‘The timing, in any case, is deeply suspect.’
    • ‘Anyway, over the weekend, I began thinking about suspect packages and security alerts and bomb scares.’
    • ‘These include keeping an eye out for suspect bags, packages or vehicles, or people acting suspiciously in airports or stations.’
    • ‘Over time there have been loads of bomb scares, evacuations, removal of suspect packages and more.’
    • ‘Similar technologies can separate innocuous packages from the suspect ones that need closer inspection.’
    • ‘The Bible, for many, is a morally suspect document.’
    • ‘It reopened in the afternoon, after a suspect package was found.’
    • ‘You should know how to deal with suspect packages.’
    • ‘Air France later said the suspect package was a false alarm.’
    suspicious, dubious, untrustworthy, questionable, doubtful, odd, queer, potentially dangerous, potentially false, under suspicion, not quite right
    fishy, funny, shady, not kosher
    View synonyms


Middle English (originally as an adjective): from Latin suspectus mistrusted past participle of suspicere, from sub- from below + specere to look.