private eye(redirected from private eyes)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.
slang A private investigator or detective. "Eye" is a pun on the letter "i" in "investigator." The disgraced police detective moved to another state and started a business as a private eye. It turned out they'd hired a private eye to keep tabs on her after she left the law firm.
A privately employed detective, as opposed to one working for the police or another authority. For example, The children loved stories about private eyes, and Janey wanted to become one. This expression comes from the term private investigator, the "i" of investigator being changed to "eye," which plays on the idea of a person looking into things. [1930s]
a ˌprivate ˈeye(informal) a detective who is not in the police, but who can be employed to find out information, find a missing person, follow somebody, etc: They hired a private eye to look for more evidence.
n. a detective who is licensed to work privately rather than for a police department. I worked for a while as a private eye.