sleuth

Definition

Theater

  • (written as Sleuth)
    An ingenious two-act thriller by Antony Shaffer (1926 - 2001),twin brother of the playwright Peter Shaffer. After openingin 1970 at London's St Martin's Theatre it transferred to the Garrickand Fortune for a total run of 2359 performances. It also ran for1222 performances on Broadway. The 1973 film version brought togetherLaurence Olivier (then 65) and Michael Caine. Olivier was paid $200,000,his highest-ever single fee, for the performance.

    The plot introduces Andrew Wyke, a successful writer of detectivefiction who lives in a remote manor house in Wiltshire. When his wife'slover, Milo Tindle, visits, the two begin a series of dangerous psychologicalgames, which escalate out of control towards a violent denouement.

Origin & History of “sleuth”

Sleuth originally meant ‘track, trail’ (‘John of Lorn perceived the hound had lost the sleuth’, John Barbour, The Bruce 1375). It was borrowed from Old Norse slóth ‘track, trail’, which was probably also the ultimate source of English slot ‘trail of an animal’ (16th c.). In the 14th century the compound sleuth-hound ‘bloodhound for tracking fugitives’ was coined. this was later shortened back to sleuth, and applied in 19th-century America to a ‘detective’.
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