es·​chew e-ˈshü How to pronounce eschew (audio)
es-ˈchü How to pronounce eschew (audio)
 also  e-ˈskyü
eschewed; eschewing; eschews

transitive verb

: to avoid habitually especially on moral or practical grounds : shun
e-ˈshü-əl How to pronounce eschew (audio)
 also  e-ˈskyü-

Did you know?

Eschew derives from the Anglo-French verb eschiver and is akin to the Old High German verb sciuhen ("to frighten off"), an ancestor of our word shy. In his famous dictionary of 1755 Dr. Samuel Johnson characterized "eschew" as "almost obsolete." History has proven that the great lexicographer was wrong on that call, however. William Thackeray found "eschew" alive enough to use it almost one hundred years later in his classic novel Vanity Fair: "He has already eschewed green coats, red neckcloths, and other worldly ornaments." The word swelled in usage in English during the 19th and 20th centuries and is now common enough to be included even in small paperback dictionaries.

Choose the Right Synonym for eschew

escape, avoid, evade, elude, shun, eschew mean to get away or keep away from something.

escape stresses the fact of getting away or being passed by not necessarily through effort or by conscious intent.

nothing escapes her sharp eyes

avoid stresses forethought and caution in keeping clear of danger or difficulty.

try to avoid past errors

evade implies adroitness, ingenuity, or lack of scruple in escaping or avoiding.

evaded the question by changing the subject

elude implies a slippery or baffling quality in the person or thing that escapes.

what she sees in him eludes me

shun often implies an avoiding as a matter of habitual practice or policy and may imply repugnance or abhorrence.

you have shunned your responsibilities

eschew implies an avoiding or abstaining from as unwise or distasteful.

a playwright who eschews melodrama

Examples of eschew in a Sentence

Though a doctor with psychiatric training, he eschewed the science that had so enamored earlier child-rearing professionals … Sue Halpern, New York Review of Books, 29 May 2003
A fair number of academics eschew the simple title "professor" and call themselves economists, astronomers, historians, philosophers. Tracy Kidder, Home Town, 1999
When introduced to a stranger, he eschewed formalities, stuck out a gnarled right hand and responded with a chummy, "Hermann." Tim Layden, Sports Illustrated, 2 Feb. 1998
They now eschew the violence of their past. a psychologist who eschews the traditional methods of psychotherapy
Recent Examples on the Web Lopez eschewed pants, instead styling the jacket as a minidress. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 8 Sep. 2023 From the Black Space I (1976) and From the Black Space II (1977), the show’s other two works, eschew background color and detail to let her nude figures stand alone. Grace Edquist, Vogue, 8 Sep. 2023 Pita bread, falafel and hummus are made on-site, and the restaurant eschews preservatives in favor of fresh ingredients, per Yiannouris. Amanda Yeager, Baltimore Sun, 7 Sep. 2023 Private academies that aim to place their students in highly selective colleges and universities also eschew A.P. in favor of a more substantive and autonomous curriculum. Aaron R. Hanlon, The New Republic, 6 Sep. 2023 Lawyer Sidney Powell eschewed the animal prints and emphatic accessories for a crisp white top, her chin tucked. Karen Heller, Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2023 In attempting to understand these facts, Carlson largely eschews the familiar focus on the National Rifle Association, the Republican Party, and the Supreme Court. Jennifer Carlson, Foreign Affairs, 22 Aug. 2023 Allen has typically eschewed intentional quarterback rotation. Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, 2 Sep. 2023 More Americans than ever are eschewing cold hard cash — 41% say that none of their typical purchases in a week are paid for with cash, according to a 2022 Pew Research Center study. Carly Olson, Los Angeles Times, 22 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'eschew.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French eschiver (3rd present eschiu) of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German sciuhen to frighten off — more at shy

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of eschew was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near eschew

Cite this Entry

“Eschew.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


es·​chew is-ˈchü How to pronounce eschew (audio)
: shun, avoid

More from Merriam-Webster on eschew

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