sniff out


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sniff out

1. Literally, to locate someone or something using one's sense of smell. Almost exclusively said of dogs. A noun or pronoun can be used between "sniff" and "out." 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 through some form of investigation. A noun or pronoun can be used between "sniff" and "out." 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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

sniff out

v.
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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
Dr Cognetta first came up with the idea three years ago, after hearing how a dog was used to sniff out the body of a drowned man in a lake.
I'd trained dogs to sniff out all kinds of things, including lobsters and turtle eggs.
Today, dogs may be employed to sniff out illegal substances in school lockers--or earthquake victims buried beneath the rubble of a collapsed building or highway.
These clever canines sniff out the suspect in an average of 40 percent of the 900 cases they work each year.
He even suggested that for a person needing a transplant, dogs could sniff out a donor having similar MHC genes.
They bring down suspects, sniff out drugs, pursue stolen cars, and work long hours with no reward beyond a quick play with a ball...
Gustin turned up evidence that mother bats also sniff out their young using a keen sense of smell, and that they recall with great accuracy the region of the creche where they last left their pups.
But in their hurry to test their game on the two championship courses very few take the trouble to stop and sniff out the delights of the Wee Rose nine-holer.