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private detective

a detective who is not a member of an official force but is employed by private parties.
Also called private investigator.
Origin of private detective
1865-70 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for private detective
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Then a private detective was engaged to be on the watch, to take into custody whoever called for the bundle.

  • I am a private detective, and I am endeavouring to explain his disappearance.

    The Return of Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle
  • I do not suppose there is any harm in my hiring a private detective.

    Jewel Weed Alice Ames Winter
  • The mysterious Morton proved to be a private detective, employed by Archer.

    The Pit Prop Syndicate Freeman Wills Crofts
  • You will, perhaps, understand when I say I am a private detective.

    The Betrayal of John Fordham B.L. (Benjamin Leopold) Farjeon
British Dictionary definitions for private detective

private detective

an individual privately employed to investigate a crime, keep watch on a suspected person, or make other inquiries Also called private investigator
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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