In an attempt to name a company I have chosen "outclued" as the best name to go , inspired by the words "outsmart"/"outwit" (which has positive approach).

But the selected name "outclued" doesn't have any dictionary meaning.With my limited English knowledge i doubt whether the word has any meaning like clueless in English .

Do outclued can in any form inferred as clueless ?

It would be helpful if any examples are quoted on the same

Any help , thanks

Note :

Question was asked to move to ell from english.stackexchange by users and question is deleted from english.stackexchange (was unaware of ell until a user pointed out)

  • If it is not in a dictionary, then it has no meaning unless you make one up.
    – user3169
    Jun 30, 2016 at 6:03
  • thank you @user3169 but at english stackexchange some users have quoted it as word denotes lost in competition..
    – utility
    Jun 30, 2016 at 6:07
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not about learning English Jun 30, 2016 at 12:52
  • 3
    @user3169 Actually, it's possible to invent new words that people understand on the first hearing, and in fact there are many words that people use successfully to communicate that are not reported in dictionaries. This is why dictionaries need to be revised frequently: to incorporate new words that people are already using.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jun 30, 2016 at 23:46
  • 1
    This question is probably more suited for ELU, but it can be answered in a way that makes it about learning English: specifically, about how fluent speakers make sense of a new word.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jun 30, 2016 at 23:49

3 Answers 3


Labels on things and companies

As the name of a company, most native speakers would hear Outclued as a past participle describing the company. Whatever outclued means, they would expect that the company has that quality.

For example, there is a company called Peerless that makes boilers. They write the word "Peerless" prominently on their boilers. The common meaning of "peerless" is "without equal": that is, better than all others. Labeling the boilers "Peerless" and the company "Peerless" is understood as claiming that the boilers and the company are peerless.


A common meaning of the prefix out- before a verb is to do the action of the verb in a way that exceeds or surpasses something, especially to surpass a competitor. For example, if Joe outruns John, that means that Joe runs faster or further than John. If Joe outsells John, that means that Joe sells more than John sells. If Joe outnegotiates John, that means that Joe negotiates better than John. By the way, I just made up the word outnegotiate. Dictionary.com doesn't have it. But a fluent speaker would understand it easily.

As you can see from the comments, fluent speakers have difficulty assigning a meaning to outclued without some additional hint or context. They try to understand it by analogy with other verbs that have an out- prefix, and so they wonder what clue means as a verb. Whatever clue means as a verb, they expect that outclue would mean doing it exceedingly. And outclued would be the past participle.

Past participles are usually passive

Past participles in English are usually passive. They mean that the action of the verb has been done to the noun that they modify. For example, a lit cigarette is one that has been lit, not a cigarette that lit something else. The beaten path is the path that has been beaten (by people walking on it), not the path that beat other things.

So, people expect that a company called Outclued wants to be thought of as a company that has been outclued by someone else. Even without knowing what clued as a verb means, outclued suggests that the company is probably the loser in some sort of competition. Similarly, a person who has been outsmarted or outwitted has lost a competition involving intelligence, like the fellow who lost the "battle of wits" in this scene from The Princess Bride.


As a verb, clue in contemporary English usually appears as a phrasal verb: to clue someone in on something means to give them information about it, especially information that most people don't have access to. The OED reports on a slightly older usage, where to clue someone is to inform them about something, that is, give them a clue. I personally haven't encountered it, but it's the meaning that one would expect based on clue in. Clue in probably occurs most frequently as a past participle: someone is clued in if they have the relevant information—if they're "in the know".

So, Outclued as a company name suggests that the company is less informed about important, relevant matters than its competitors. The company has less access to privileged information than its competitors. Because out- with a past participle suggests defeat in a competition, outclued is likely to suggest the word clueless to someone trying to guess its meaning.

There are other senses of the word clue, involving thread, sailing, and nails, but they're not well-known and they need context to suggest them. It's unlikely that most fluent speakers would think of them when trying to guess the meaning of Outclued with no context except that it's the name of a company.

  • thank you , for such a good post in detail..yes , you are right and i think fluent speakers might think as clueless , can you please suggest a one word for "to clue someone in" ? , or should i post that as a separate question ?
    – utility
    Jul 1, 2016 at 3:04
  • @utility Yes, that would be good to post as another question, though it's probably better suited for english.stackexchange.com than ELL. A good way to start searching for another word is to look up "clue in" in a thesaurus. Also, if you look up "clue in" in a dictionary, you'll probably find a word like "inform". Then look up "inform" (or whatever you find) in a thesaurus. Choosing a good name for a company can be difficult. There are people called naming consultants who do it professionally, but they usually cost a lot.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jul 1, 2016 at 3:30

You might want to use

I outclue you.

and not

I was outclued.

which might be interpreted to have a negative meaning, in the same way


is positive, but

I was outwitted.

may be considered negative.

  • 1
    This is a good point, actually. Even though one could say something like "I outperformed him." I would much rather have my company name be "outperform" rather than "outperformed".
    – Leo
    Jun 30, 2016 at 7:55
  • thank you @peter for your answer..it would be great if you let me know what you have in mind for "outclue" ? i.e its meaning
    – utility
    Jun 30, 2016 at 8:05
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    Well a "clue" is something that "gives a hint" or "points in a direct" of an answer, and out+*verb* is "to do more than" e.g. out run. The problem is a "clue" is not generated by the user (like running is) but is discovered or given. I guess it might mean clues were found more easily or faster than usual, but as @user3169 has said, you can define it any way you want since it's not in the dictionary.
    – Peter
    Jun 30, 2016 at 15:04
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    No matter how hard I try, I can't attach a positive to "Outclued." To me, it says "clueless" unambiguously. In ancient USENET usage, the term was occasionally used as a term of inverse praise, signifying that a party with "more clue" than another was superior, e.g. "Considering that clifto has you out clued and out reasoned by orders of magnitude..." The term also seems to have had a specialized and negative usage in the multiplayer game "Netrek," e.g. "The Feds agreed that they were outclued and were going to lose." Jun 30, 2016 at 21:52
  • thank you Peter and @P.E.Dant for your comments on the meaning..as a beginner in english it helped me
    – utility
    Jul 1, 2016 at 3:06

After having done some research on the words with prefix out like :

outsmart : defeat or get the better of (someone) by being clever or cunning.

outvote : defeat by gaining more votes.

outwork : work harder than (someone else).

outwit : deceive by greater ingenuity.

outguess : outwit

outbrave : outdo in bravery.

outclass : be far superior to.

I think it would be good to go outclued as i could not see any negative meaning as such, its just surpassing with more clues :) . Lets take positive from it.

Thank you all for contributing to post..

  • 2
    I am not so sure. The prefix out used with a verb in past participle form to describe the subject means that someone else was better: outsmarted, outclassed, etc mean someone else was smarter, someone else had more class. Besides that, to clue is a verb with limited meaning. Have you looked the word up and seen what it means as a verb. In general, it is not clear what outclued would mean as the name of a company. Jun 30, 2016 at 13:40
  • 1
    If I say that someone was outclued, then yes indeed, it could mean that that someone was clueless. Jun 30, 2016 at 13:41

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