avoided; avoiding; avoids

transitive verb

: to keep away from : shun
They have been avoiding me.
: to prevent the occurrence or effectiveness of
avoid further delays
: to refrain from
avoid overeating
law : to make legally void (see void entry 1 sense 1a) : annul
avoid a plea
archaic : to depart or withdraw from : leave
obsolete : void, expel
avoidable adjective
avoidably adverb
avoider noun
Choose the Right Synonym for avoid

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 avoid in a Sentence

Why do you keep avoiding me? She took a detour to avoid the heavy traffic. They successfully avoided each other for days. He tried hard to avoid accidents. We need to avoid further delays. He was caught trying to avoid arrest. in an effort to avoid confusion I'm not going to be late if I can avoid it. How can I avoid paying too much tax? I am trying to avoid showing any hint of favoritism. See More
Recent Examples on the Web To avoid decision paralysis, start with smaller products, such as smart plugs and smart light bulbs. Bret Jordan, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 That project revolved around a hard-living, foul-mouthed woman who moves to affluent Greenwich, Connecticut, to raise the spoiled kids of her wealthy sister, who has fled the country to avoid a federal indictment. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Nov. 2023 Then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy referred Rep. Garcia's resolution to the House Ethics Committee at the time -- avoiding a full floor vote. Lauren Peller, ABC News, 28 Nov. 2023 Each story also manages to avoid the tropes so ubiquitous in even the most well meaning children’s literature. Rachel Vorona Cote, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2023 ProPublica documented how Utah avoided more than $75 million in spending on public assistance over the past decade by taking credit for aid to the hungry and homeless provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Eli Hager, ProPublica, 28 Nov. 2023 Despite this, physical shopping is the best way to avoid algorithms influencing your purchases, Kaminkow said. Kerry Breen, CBS News, 27 Nov. 2023 The report states that the workers cover to avoid negative stereotypes, and be perceived as competent. Jasmine Browley, Essence, 27 Nov. 2023 Ma, a larger-than-life character who gained legions of followers thanks to his wealth and success, had previously bragged about being able to avoid Chinese regulators. Byeleanor Pringle, Fortune, 27 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'avoid.' 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 avoider, alteration of Old French esvuider, from es- (from Latin ex-) + vuider to empty — more at void entry 3

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

Dictionary Entries Near avoid

Cite this Entry

“Avoid.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avoid. Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to keep away from
they have been avoiding me
: to keep from happening
avoid an accident
: to keep from doing or being
avoid getting too tired
avoidable adjective
avoidably adverb
avoider noun

Legal Definition


transitive verb
: to make void or undo : annul
the trustee may avoid any transfer of interest of the debtor in propertyU.S. Code
: to respond to (an allegation or averment) by declaring that facts alleged do not result in liability
averments in a pleading to which no responsive pleading is required or permitted shall be taken as denied or avoidedU.S. Code
see also confession and avoidance compare deny
: to prevent the occurrence of or responsibility for especially through lawful means
avoid a tax
compare evade
avoidability noun
avoidable adjective
avoidance noun

modification of Old French esvuider to destroy, literally, to empty, from es- out + vuider to empty

More from Merriam-Webster on avoid

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