from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Slang A police officer.
  • n. Slang A private investigator.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A private detective.


Perhaps from the Irish name Seamus, James.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • 'The cop said, "Your Dad's been hurt, girlie. He's hurt real bad." He wasn't like a shamus now; he was more like the sort of man who might have a daughter himself.'

    - Nightmare Alley, William Lindsay Gresham

    June 30, 2012

  • police officer, detective.

    1925, probably from Yiddish, lit. "sexton of a synagogue," from Heb. shamash "servant;" influenced by Celt. Seamus "James," as a typical name for an Irish cop.

    October 3, 2007

  • The Big Sleep

    February 14, 2007