Definition of detective in English:


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  • 1A person, especially a police officer, whose occupation is to investigate and solve crimes.

    ‘detectives are anxious to interview anyone who saw the car’
    • ‘Eight of the suspects were today being quizzed by detectives at undisclosed police stations.’
    • ‘Strathclyde Police last night confirmed that detectives had investigated the matter.’
    • ‘The investigating detectives reviewed the color surveillance video at the dealership.’
    • ‘He is still at large and detectives are investigating a possible link with an attack just two days earlier.’
    • ‘A police spokesman said detectives are trying to establish the cause of death.’
    • ‘He had never been in trouble with the police and detectives believe he was the victim of mistaken identity.’
    • ‘He said within minutes an ambulance, police vans and detectives had turned up.’
    • ‘Both were released after being questioned by detectives and remain on police bail.’
    • ‘Police patrols were boosted as detectives warned that the man could strike again.’
    • ‘A surveillance unit of detectives follow her every move and are ready to pounce when the alarm sounds.’
    • ‘A major manhunt was launched and detectives made numerous appeals in a bid to catch the culprit.’
    • ‘The bravery of one of his victims enabled vice-squad detectives to bring him to court.’
    • ‘At the height of the investigation more than 80 detectives were involved in inquiries.’
    • ‘An initial post-mortem failed to establish a cause of death and detectives started an investigation.’
    • ‘One person detectives are particularly anxious to speak to is a woman who phoned a few days after the assault.’
    • ‘The two men were taken to the police station for questioning by detectives.’
    • ‘Even the two detectives who led the investigation are divided over how much Carr knew.’
    • ‘Officers are doing extra patrols in town and detectives have made a new appeal for women not to go out alone.’
    • ‘A police spokesman appealed for people with information to contact detectives.’
    • ‘Firefighters alerted police and the fire was out before detectives arrived.’
    investigator, private detective, private investigator, operative
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1as modifier Denoting a particular rank of police officer.
      ‘Detective Sergeant Fox’
      • ‘‘One of the prints we have found is yours,’ a Strathclyde Police detective inspector told her.’
      • ‘The Q car team will include an advanced driver, detective sergeant and a police constable.’
      • ‘He also telephoned a detective inspector and told him he was conducting a search.’
      • ‘He had been in the police force for 15 years, rising to the rank of detective constable but was sacked following his conviction.’
      • ‘Criticism that police may have been slow in responding was rejected by detective inspector Watson.’
      • ‘We like it here because you don't have to be a detective sergeant or a policeman.’
      • ‘Yes, Sir William, my name is KK, I am a retired detective inspector.’
      • ‘Chelmsford's new detective inspector has vowed to purge the town of criminals through a hard-line proactive attitude to crime.’
      • ‘Michael Jericho is a detective inspector in Fifties London.’
      • ‘Even the detective inspector investigating Vera's case is sympathetic.’
      • ‘A Western Isles man has been appointed detective inspector for Orkney, Shetland, Caithness and Sutherland.’
      • ‘A year later he was promoted to detective inspector, based in Leyland, and after two years he joined Lancashire's drug squad.’
      • ‘Tim is at present a detective inspector in Hastings and he and his family are active members of a church in Eastbourne.’
      • ‘He was promoted to detective inspector last September, and latterly has been based at Keighley.’
      • ‘The detective inspector looked at the other musicians as if he was thinking about having them searched.’
      • ‘And a team of four police officers - headed by a detective sergeant - has been set up, dedicated to vehicle crime.’
      • ‘The men were suspended from duty and a lengthy investigation carried out by a detective superintendent.’
      • ‘The detective sergeant told the court police also wished to question four other people who are in custody about this document.’
      • ‘He said that from his past work as a detective sergeant for the Kennet district he knew the Marlborough area well.’
      • ‘In a statement released after the verdict, the Chapmans accused the detective constable of betraying them.’
    2. 1.2as modifier Concerning crime and its investigation.
      ‘detective work’
      • ‘Since the mid-nineteenth century crime and detective fiction has been a prominent part of the output of all the dominant mass media.’
      • ‘Jackson was sitting on the couch, watching some type of mystery detective crime fighting show.’
      • ‘As well as detective work, crime prevention is also a key priority.’
      • ‘It's a classic noir detective tale but as well as a crime to be solved there's a philosophical mystery in the making.’
      • ‘No, the only way to stop crime is good, old-fashioned detective work which seems to be lacking in our Police Service.’
      • ‘They focus more upon good old-fashioned detective work to solve the crime of the week.’
      • ‘I think there was a lot of good police work, good detective work, the cooperation of all the agencies.’
      • ‘They want professional police to do the detective work.’
      • ‘However, I believe the police officers ought to do good detective work by observing.’
      • ‘It means that our police forces are hopelessly inept when it comes to applying detective work to modern communications.’
      • ‘This reflects the excellent detective work from the CID officers at Darwen.’



/dəˈtektiv/ /dəˈtɛktɪv/


Mid 19th century from detect. The noun was originally short for detective policeman, from an adjectival use of the word in the sense ‘serving to detect’.