sniff out

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sniff (someone or something) out

1. Literally, to locate someone's or something's location using one's sense of smell. (Almost exclusively said of dogs.) We've sent a pack of dogs to sniff the fugitive out. The police use specially trained dogs to sniff out drugs and bombs.
2. By extension, to uncover, reveal, or expose someone or something. If the company is up to anything fishy, the auditor will sniff it out. Our lead investigative journalist sniffed out the politician leaking information to foreign intelligence agents.
See also: out, sniff

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.
See also: out, sniff

sniff out

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]
See also: out, sniff

sniff out

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.
See also: out, sniff
References in periodicals archive ?
But Verity and Waite have seen the items that the beagles sniff out and the devastating pests and diseases they contain.
Being newly certified, the two dogs are awaiting assignments to either sniff out live humans buried in rubble or locate accelerants used to start an arson.
Deputy Sheriff Ernie DeArmas, recently named Deputy of the Year in the Santa Clarita Valley, seems to sniff out crime.
The military is paying $25 million - a chunk of that to Lewis - to develop an artificial dog nose sensitive enough to sniff out the faint chemical traces of land mines, which maim thousands each year.
PHOTO (1--Color) Trained to sniff out drugs, alcohol and guns, Keno the dog gives a demonstration at a school assembly.
District officials are considering whether to hire a company that supplies canines trained to sniff out contraband that students may be hiding in their lockers and backpacks.
Cero, a 65-pound German shepherd and Rendahl, 33, make up the Simi Valley Police Department's new K-9 team that will sniff out crooks, track missing children and hunt down hidden narcotics.
Bolstered by a survey that shows a majority of students support using police dogs to sniff out drugs on campus, trustees are considering bringing the canines back in the fall to junior high and high schools.
With his German shepherd, Max, Officer Dwight Thompson showed the canine's abilities by directing the dog to sniff out marijuana from one of several closed shoe boxes.
If the USDA had more money, Hawkins said, it would hire more inspectors, but also would invest in the development of machines that could actually sniff out fruit and meat.