SKIP TO CONTENT

detect

The verb detect means to discover or observe the existence of something. If you walk into your house and detect the odor of burnt food, you can deduce from the evidence that you will be going out to dinner tonight!

The verb detect comes from the Latin word detegere, which literally means "to uncover" — or more figuratively, to discover. You may detect the presence of a new dog in your house if you note a water bowl, chew toys, and grooming tools. Of course, the large woofing beast that greeted you at the door with a wagging tail might be a big clue as well.

Definitions of detect
  1. verb
    discover or determine the existence, presence, or fact of
    “She detected high levels of lead in her drinking water”
    synonyms: discover, find, notice, observe
    discover, find
    make a discovery, make a new finding
    see moresee less
    types:
    show 5 types...
    hide 5 types...
    catch out, find out
    trap; especially in an error or in a reprehensible act
    sense
    detect some circumstance or entity automatically
    instantiate
    find an instance of (a word or particular usage of a word)
    trace
    discover traces of
    see
    observe as if with an eye
    type of:
    sight, spy
    catch sight of; to perceive with the eyes
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week