1 of 2


de·​tour ˈdē-ˌtu̇r How to pronounce detour (audio)
 also  di-ˈtu̇r
: a deviation from a direct course or the usual procedure
especially : a roundabout way temporarily replacing part of a route


2 of 2


detoured; detouring; detours

intransitive verb

: to proceed by a detour
detour around road construction

transitive verb

: to send by a circuitous route
detour traffic around an accident
: to avoid by going around : bypass
detour an accident site

Examples of detour in a Sentence

Noun After a number of unexpected detours, we finally arrived at our destination. The little restaurant is worth a detour. We had to make a detour around the heaviest traffic. We took a detour from the main streets. The road is closed ahead, so traffic will have to follow the detour. Verb We detoured around the heaviest traffic. A police officer was detouring traffic around the scene of the accident. Traffic will be detoured to 72nd Street. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
His second book of everyday observations is loaded with detours, digressions, and humor. Karen Campbell, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 Dec. 2023 Other shippers opt for detours that can add thousands of miles and more than a week at sea — sometimes through perilous waters. Ruth Liao, Fortune, 4 Dec. 2023 Drivers who brave the area must maneuver through detours, but commuters have another option: public transportation. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2023 The good, bad, and ugly that dot all of our paths, whether paved with dirt or not, is filled with all sort of detours. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 3 Nov. 2023 After a brief detour into fronting local rock bands in North Carolina, Loveless returned to her first love, country music — and the blend of her high lonesome voice with country-rock fare would become her calling card. Jessica Nicholson, Billboard, 23 Oct. 2023 The car Burns was in made a detour and ended up in a Memphis neighborhood. Malka Abramoff, ABC News, 27 Sep. 2023 There is a detour to bypass that closure but another one spans from north of Islip Saddle to Vincent Gulch — scuttling direct access to the mountain town of Wrightwood. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, 9 Nov. 2023 The detour would have given researchers a chance to understand the seabed topography around Hawaii, or the conditions of naval operations and how submarines move in and out. Lily Kuo, Washington Post, 19 Oct. 2023
Others will detour in their cars but find traffic congestion on surface streets, and there are still more people who will carpool. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2023 Northwest Arkansas While none of Route 66 passes through the Arkansas Ozarks, plenty more adventures can be found by detouring 60 miles south of Joplin into the state’s northwest corner. Mike Bezemek, Outside Online, 13 Apr. 2023 As well as thanking customers who had sent tip-offs to the company, Risher added the driver of the vehicle in question hadn’t detoured from the GPS route provided to employees between jobs — adding other customers in the vehicle that day had been contacted but had not seen Tux. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 3 Oct. 2023 In August, however, the Republican presidential candidates’ debate detoured from the usual litany of empty soundbites into something darker: a collective dismissal of reality. David Robert Grimes, Scientific American, 1 Sep. 2023 The lane closures prompted motorists to detour the interstate, leading to heavy traffic congestion on Baldwin County 64, portions of Alabama State Route 59, Alabama State Route 181 in Daphne, and U.S. 90. John Sharp |, al, 16 June 2023 Although the interstate detoured the town's original concept, the residents' spirit carried on, and the Christmas theme remains. Melissa Locker, Southern Living, 30 Oct. 2023 Additionally, motorists traveling west on John Harden Drive will not be able to drive through the James Street intersection and will be detoured north. Tony Holt, Arkansas Online, 15 Oct. 2023 The duo’s stratospheric success is compacted to three albums from 1983 to 1986 before Michael detoured into an even bigger and broader solo career, but their accomplishments linger. Melissa Ruggieri, USA TODAY, 30 June 2023 See More

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

Word History



French détour, from Old French destor, from destorner to divert, from des- de- + torner to turn — more at turn

First Known Use


1738, in the meaning defined above


1836, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of detour was in 1738

Dictionary Entries Near detour

Cite this Entry

“Detour.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
de·​tour ˈdē-ˌtu̇(ə)r How to pronounce detour (audio)
 also  di-ˈtu̇(ə)r
: a departure from a direct course or the usual procedure
especially : a roundabout way temporarily replacing a regular route


2 of 2 verb
: to send or proceed by a detour
detour traffic around an accident

More from Merriam-Webster on detour

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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