de·​tour | \ ˈdē-ˌtu̇r also di-ˈtu̇r How to pronounce detour (audio) \

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

Volkswagen AG , Europe’s biggest auto maker, experienced sharp sales declines in November in Europe, China and the U.S., but company executives remain optimistic that was a temporary detour from continued growth. Paul Hannon, WSJ, "Germany Shows Symptoms of Deeper Economic Pain," 8 Jan. 2019 Matera, Italy Why: The holiday-makers who flock to Puglia’s tranquil white villages—and everyone else—have a new reason to make a detour to Matera, an ancient city perched on a limestone cliff in the the nearby region of Basilicata. Christina Pérez, Vogue, "Here’s Where to Travel in 2019," 26 Dec. 2018 One such detour led us to Roça Monte Café, an old plantation that grows coffee brought to the island from Brazil by the Portuguese. Gabriele Steinhauser, WSJ, "Fantasized About Being a Castaway? Check Out This Island Holiday," 18 Dec. 2018 Ralph Breaks the Internet, like all good picaresques, meanders a bit during its journey, stopping to take several little detours that aren’t strictly necessary. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Ralph Breaks the Internet is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but for the internet," 21 Nov. 2018 And opting to embrace this detour rather than getting back to orbit leads the pair into a simple saga with two motivations—first, grab the aurelacs and get out; second, stay alive while doing it. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Sci-fi stunner Prospect values small stories in a galaxy far, far away," 2 Nov. 2018 Police currently closed a 45-mile stretch near the Oregon border, grounding many trucks – but others chose a 140-mile detour along a winding road. William Lajeunesse, Fox News, "California Delta fire shuts down busy freeway after it triples in size," 7 Sep. 2018 Hannah Höch When traveling on business, Mr. Perlstein would make detours to visit pioneers of Dada and Surrealism, who were now well advanced in years and not otherwise receiving much attention. Arthur Lubow, New York Times, "A Collector Follows His Nose Through the Maze of Modern Art," 13 Apr. 2018 On your way home, make a short detour to Cape Elizabeth to see the Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park (1000 Shore Road, 207-799-2661,, "A real spring break for families," 4 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The entire road is being rebuilt within the construction site, so traffic will be detoured around the area. Steven Martinez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Here's a list of summer road construction projects in Menomonee Falls and how to avoid them," 26 June 2018 As a result of reducing bus fleets, Sound Transit Route 532, which Community Transit operates, was canceled; riders must detour to Route 512 from Everett to Lynnwood. Mike Lindblom, The Seattle Times, "Metro buses still on reduced snow schedules while slush brings new driving risks," 12 Feb. 2019 De Guzman encouraged Dela Paz to detour even farther from his Napa ramen plans and start a Filipino pop-up instead. Jonathan Kauffman,, "Likha brings Michelin pedigrees to Filipino bar food," 5 July 2018 Maybe the caravan is detouring through Syria and picking up terrorists. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: “There’s No Proof of Anything”," 28 Oct. 2018 Motorists are being detoured via the Sixth and 17th Street bridges in West Virginia. Jennie Key,, "Why did the boulder cross the road? Route 7 in Lawrence County closed due to rock slide," 26 Feb. 2018 Wherever the story of Tesla goes next, and whatever detours Elon Musk has in store, 2018 will likely be remembered for that. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: Tesla," 29 Dec. 2018 Maureen Jacobson said kids on bikes would sometimes detour off the West Orange Trail past their house and imitate a crowing rooster, hoping to prompt a response from Milfred, who often obliged. Stephen Hudak,, "No more jarring 'cock-a-doodle-doos,' but beloved rooster Milfred will live on, stuffed by taxidermist," 3 July 2018 During the incident, all lanes on I-495 south were closed, and traffic was detoured off at Exit 32, police said. Elise Takahama,, "Worcester man killed by wrong-way driver on I-495 in Westford, police say," 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

12 Mar 2019

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 How to pronounce detour (audio) \

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

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marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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