Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia.
Related to sniff out: come in handy, take account of, so much for, worse for wear
sniff someone or something out
to locate someone or something by sniffing or as if by sniffing. The dog sniffed the intruder out and the police captured him. The dog sniffed out the mole in the lawn.
sniff out somebody/somethingalso sniff somebody/something out
to discover someone or something, usually only after a special effort Part of their job is to sniff out talented new writers. The FBI knew they had a double agent in their midst, but it took years to sniff him out. Related vocabulary: nose around
Uncover, as If there's anything to that rumor, Gladys will sniff it out. This expression alludes to an animal sniffing for prey. [First half of 1900s]
To perceive or detect someone or something by or as if by sniffing: The dogs sniffed out the trail through the snow. The detectives sniffed the plot out and arrested the criminals.