Also found in: Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


or plain·clothes man  (plān′klōz′mən, -klōthz′-)
A member of a police force, especially a detective, who wears civilian clothes on duty.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


n, pl -men
(Law) old-fashioned a policeman who wears ordinary clothes when working, rather than a uniform
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈpleɪnˈkloʊz mən, -ˌmæn, -ˈkloʊðz-)

also plain′clothes′ man`,

n., pl. -men (-mən, -ˌmɛn)
a police officer, esp. a detective, who wears civilian clothes while on duty.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.plainclothesman - a detective who wears civilian clothes on duty
detective, police detective, tec, investigator - a police officer who investigates crimes
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
In one of the videos, a plainclothesman can be seen pointing a handgun directly at the car's occupants.
The uniformed 'new' staff at toll plazas worked in multiple rows for a week or so before reverting to the previous practice of a single row being manned by a plainclothesman staff leading to long queues.
There have been cases where the culprit was the adjustment cord of a jacket or a plainclothesman's hoodie getting caught in the triggerguard.
When they notice Landsman's car, with its reek of plainclothesman hubris and its inflammatory double-S on the grille, they leave off yelling at one another and give Landsman the Bessarabian fish-eye.
Intruder in the Dust's ready appropriation of the detective genre also anticipated the new age of television, which invested heavily in detective stories and police procedurals like Dragnet (1951-59), The Plainclothesman (1949-54), and many others.
All of a sudden, a plainclothesman accosted me and surreptitiously flashed a battered identity card signaling he was a "policeman".
Wallace hosted "The Mike Wallace Interview" on New York's then independent Channel 13 and grilled a young CCNY student, Donald Swerdlow, who was assaulted and falsely arrested by Daniel Meehan, a Transit Authority plainclothesman. Meehan lied to the courts when he stated that Swerdlow dropped a Hershey wrapper on a subway car floor.
Included in the new shows are Dumont Network Shows such as Original Amateur Hour, Ellery Queen, Hold That Camera, The Plainclothesman, Down You Go, Boxing From St.
Then and now, he reasoned, a suit wouldn't put him in any less danger than a uniform once the shooting started, and as a plainclothesman he prefers to carry a full-size service pistol.