de·​tour | \ ˈdē-ˌtu̇r also di-ˈtu̇r \

Definition of detour

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a deviation from a direct course or the usual procedure especially : a roundabout way temporarily replacing part of a route


detoured; detouring; detours

Definition of detour (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to proceed by a detour detour around road construction

transitive verb

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

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Examples of detour in a Sentence


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.


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Most of these detours are fresh and funny; a few tried my patience. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Ralph Breaks the Internet is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but for the internet," 21 Nov. 2018 Readers discover revelations alongside the characters, with plenty of detours for scientific explanation, or backtracking to cover the specific history for a character. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "From the author of The Three-Body Problem," 15 Sep. 2018 Beach traffic on Las Olas Boulevard is going to be a congested nightmare of detours for the next three months. Tonya Alanez,, "Two-block closure on Las Olas will clog beach traffic for months," 5 July 2018 Singer has been the Gators’ top starter this year, Kowar the No. 2 and on a college path that included a couple of detours. Blair Kerkhoff, kansascity, "Royals draft pick Jackson Kowar matches Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer in CWS gem," 19 June 2018 The tunings take on the character of detours into intriguing territories, familiar but fantastical. Mark Swed,, "A festival's final concert brings the microtonal outsiders in," 17 June 2018 Local access to businesses and residences on both roads, as well as parking on Massachusetts Avenue, will be maintained during construction with the help of detours, the state said. Laney Ruckstuhl,, "Replacement of Mass. Ave bridge in Back Bay underway," 11 May 2018 Beginning Wednesday, Uber is launching a new service, Express Pool, that aims to cut out the hassle of detours and backtracking on UberPool. Faiz Siddiqui, Washington Post, "First came UberPool. Now there’s an even cheaper option, but it requires some extra effort.," 21 Feb. 2018 Lowell Observatory, which sits on a hill overlooking Flagstaff’s beautiful turn-of-the-century downtown, was an important first stop on our space history detour. Melinda Fulmer,, "A look at Flagstaff, Arizona, where Apollo 11 astronauts trained before landing on the moon," 1 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Through traffic is detoured at South Jackson to Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, then back at South Massachusetts Street. Michelle Baruchman, The Seattle Times, "Traffic Lab mailbag: How to deal with parking limits when you go on vacation, what’s happening on 23rd Avenue?," 11 Sep. 2018 Before today's opening, drivers had to detour up to three hours inland to reach some of the coast's more popular destinations. Erin Florio, Condé Nast Traveler, "California's Highway One to Fully Reopen Today," 18 July 2018 Viaduct buses that serve nearly 30,000 passengers a day between downtown and West Seattle, White Center and Burien, including routes C and 120, will detour along Sodo streets. Mike Lindblom, The Seattle Times, "What will the Highway 99 tunnel opening mean for bus routes, detours and tsunamis? We answer those questions and more," 12 Dec. 2018 The whole show is an impressive tour — or detour — into states of looking and perception, with only a few slips into gimmickry. New York Times, "What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week," 27 June 2018 The next-closest route was a 230-mile (370-kilometer) detour into Montana. Washington Post, "Men rescued after getting bad GPS info on way to Yellowstone," 5 May 2018 But because the tollway has started bridge repairs and lane closures on 47th Street, Hinsdale recommends drivers detour on Wolf Road before proceeding any farther west. Kimberly Fornek,, "Oak Street Bridge and Chicago Avenue in Hinsdale to close for construction," 12 July 2018 East and westbound traffic on Southwest 10th Street, heading to or from the Sawgrass Expressway, was not being detoured but drivers faced some delays. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Flipped dump truck causing delays at busy intersection near the Sawgrass Expressway," 28 June 2018 Similar to running events in downtown, alternate streets that are not closed will bear the brunt of overflow with buses detouring and cars being stuck at intersections. Rosemarie Stein,, "Portland Metro Friday Traffic: Be ready for closed streets, traffic delays during the Grand Floral Parade," 8 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of detour


1738, in the meaning defined above


1836, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for detour


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

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Statistics for detour

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for detour

The first known use of detour was in 1738

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More Definitions for detour



English Language Learners Definition of detour

: to go along a way that is different from and usually longer than the usual or planned way

: to make (someone or something) go in a direction that is not planned or expected

: to avoid (something) by going around it


de·​tour | \ ˈdē-ˌtu̇r \

Kids Definition of detour

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a roundabout way that temporarily replaces part of a regular route


detoured; detouring

Kids Definition of detour (Entry 2 of 2)

: to go or make go on a different route than usual All cars were detoured.

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More from Merriam-Webster on detour

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with detour

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for detour

Spanish Central: Translation of detour

Nglish: Translation of detour for Spanish Speakers

Comments on detour

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


to settle judicially or to act as judge

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