verb \ ə-ˈvȯid \
|Updated on: 6 Jul 2018

Definition of avoid

avoided; avoiding; avoids
1 a : to keep away from : shun
  • They have been avoiding me.
b : to prevent the occurrence or effectiveness of
  • avoid further delays
c : to refrain from
  • avoid overeating
2 law : to make legally void (see 1void 1a) : annul
  • avoid a plea
3 archaic : to depart or withdraw from : leave
4 obsolete : void, expel


play \-ˈvȯi-də-bəl\ adjective


play \-blē\ adverb



Examples of avoid in a Sentence

  1. Why do you keep avoiding me?

  2. She took a detour to avoid the heavy traffic.

  3. They successfully avoided each other for days.

  4. He tried hard to avoid accidents.

  5. We need to avoid further delays.

  6. He was caught trying to avoid arrest.

  7. in an effort to avoid confusion

  8. I'm not going to be late if I can avoid it.

  9. How can I avoid paying too much tax?

  10. I am trying to avoid showing any hint of favoritism.

Recent Examples of avoid from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'avoid.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of avoid

Middle English, from Anglo-French avoider, alteration of Old French esvuider, from es- (from Latin ex-) + vuider to empty — more at 3void

Synonym Discussion of 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

AVOID Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of avoid for English Language Learners

  • : to stay away from (someone or something)

  • : to prevent the occurrence of (something bad, unpleasant, etc.)

  • : to keep yourself from doing (something) or participating in (something)

AVOID Defined for Kids


verb \ ə-ˈvȯid \

Definition of avoid for Students

avoided; avoiding
1 : to keep away from
  • Are you avoiding me?
2 : to keep from happening
  • avoid mistakes
3 : to keep from doing or being
  • Brian turned back to avoid embarrassing the pilot …
  • —Gary Paulsen, Hatchet

Law Dictionary


transitive verb

legal Definition of avoid

1 : to make void or undo : annul
  • the trustee may avoid any transfer of interest of the debtor in property
  • U.S. Code
2 : 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 avoided
  • U.S. Code
— see also confession and avoidance — compare deny
3 : to prevent the occurrence of or responsibility for especially through lawful means
  • avoid a tax
— compare evade







Origin and Etymology of avoid

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

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up avoid? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


peaceful, happy, or prosperous

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Test Your Emoji Exceptionalism

  • test-your-emoji-exceptionalism-written-with-a-lot-of-emoji
  • What is this emoji intended to represent: 🤳
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!