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See also: sherlock





Supposedly from an Old English scir-lock (bright-lock). One of a group of surnames originally denoting hair colour, parallel to Blacklock, Harlock (Old English har (grey)), Silverlock.

In the computing verb sense, refers to the software Sherlock, which in 2002 came to replicate some of the features of an earlier complementary program called Watson.[1]


  • IPA(key): /ˈʃɜɹ.lɒk/
  • Audio (General Australian):(file)
  • Hyphenation: Sher‧lock

Proper noun


Sherlock (plural Sherlocks)

  1. An English surname transferred from the nickname.
  2. A male given name transferred from the surname, of rare usage.
  3. (humorous) A detective (from Sherlock Holmes), especially used sarcastically to address somebody who has stated the obvious.
    — Where that arrow on the map says 'You are here', that must be where we are.
    — Yeah, well done Sherlock.

Derived terms




Sherlock (third-person singular simple present Sherlocks, present participle Sherlocking, simple past and past participle Sherlocked)

  1. (informal) To deduce.
    Synonyms: figure out, solve
    • 1921, Eleanor Hallowell Abbott, Rainy Week, E. P Dutton (1921), page 77:
      "Anybody could have Sherlocked at a glance," sniffed young Kennilworth, "that it had been packed by a crazy person!"
    • 1921, C. N. Williamson, A. M. Williamson, The Brightener, Doubleday, page 274:
      But almost at once I told myself that I ought to have Sherlocked the truth the moment this troubled, beautiful being had appeared on deck.
    • 1997, Bharati Mukherjee, Leave It to Me[2], Fawcett Columbine, published 1997, →ISBN:
      He wasn't crew, and he wasn't talent. I Sherlocked that from his clothes: []
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:Sherlock.
  2. (informal) To search.
    Synonyms: hunt, seek
    • 1908, The Blue and Gold, volume 35, page 52:
      That afternoon when the boys were in the field Mr. Frickstad sherlocked around in the tents and under the cots looking for a missing rocking-chair.
    • 1917, The National Provisioner, Volume 56, Part 1, page 33:
      It is reported that Governor McCall will also appoint a committee to investigate the high cost of living, but in the meantime individual investigators have Sherlocked around and their stories would make DeQuincy's Life of an Opium Eater fade into insignificance.
    • 1919, Theatre Magazine, volumes 29-30, page 24:
      Mlle. Belge's eyes Sherlocked over her chorus until it matched up those curls.
  3. (computing slang) To obsolete a unique feature in third-party software by introducing a similar or identical feature to the OS or a first-party program/app. [from 2002]
    • 2012 July 13, “You've been sherlocked”, in The Economist[3]:
      The thing software developers fear most is being "sherlocked".
    • 2013 October 28, Alex Hern, “Sherlocked: how Mavericks is making some apps obsolete”, in The Guardian[4]:
      All three developers are in a position common enough that it even has a name in the community. They have been "sherlocked".
    • 2014 June 3, Javed Anwer, “WhatsApp CEO mocks Apple for copying features”, in The Times of India[5]:
      Last year, when Apple released iOS 7 it added a feature to the Photo app, allowing users to sort photos on the basis of location and date. Photoworks, a third-party app, too offered same functionality. In response, app developer Stephen Orth tweeted, "I guess my new app just got sherlocked."


  • Percy Hide Reaney, The Origin of English Surnames, Percy Hide Reaney, Routledge, 1967, p. 235
  1. ^ “You've been sherlocked”, in The Economist[1], 2012 July 13

Further reading