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

Keep scrolling for more

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: Noun Those who do encounter the closure will be forced to take several detours. Jeff Forward, Houston Chronicle, "Closure continues on portion of Research Forest Drive in The Woodlands," 14 Sep. 2019 If one crazy digression or detour were dropped, another would quickly take its place. Los Angeles Times, "TIFF Critics Notebook: ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,’ ‘Uncut Gems’ shake up festival rhythms," 11 Sep. 2019 Golden Gate Overlook The most stunningly underrated view in San Francisco may be the Golden Gate Overlook, a short detour from the current 49 Mile Scenic Drive route through the Presidio. Peter Hartlaub,, "A 49 Mile Scenic Drive manifesto: 15 ways to build a better route," 10 Sep. 2019 The journey just took more detours than anyone could have anticipated. Perhaps sensing the end was near, Medvedev turned into a trickier foe. CBS News, "Rafael Nadal wins U.S. Open, his 19th Grand Slam title, in hourslong match," 8 Sep. 2019 The journey just took more detours than anyone could have anticipated. Howard Fendrich, Twin Cities, "Nadal stops Medvedev comeback bid to win U.S. Open," 8 Sep. 2019 The journey just took more detours than anyone could have anticipated. Howard Fendrich, The Denver Post, "Rafael Nadal edges Daniil Medvedev for 4th U.S. Open title, 19th Grand Slam trophy," 8 Sep. 2019 Caltrans suggests these detours: From Placerville, take Highway 49 south, Highway 88 east to Picketts Junction, then Highway 89 to South Lake Tahoe. Bay Area News Group, The Mercury News, "Highway 50 to Lake Tahoe to be closed for two weeks; here’s the detour map," 5 Sep. 2019 This detour will remain in place until 11 a.m. Sunday., "Portland metro Friday traffic: Area streets and bridges close Sunday for Bridge Pedal," 9 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Westbound traffic is being detoured onto Interstate 225. Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post, "Denver police motorcycle officer injured in crash on I-70 near Havana Street, westbound lanes closed," 27 Aug. 2019 Patches of snow are frequent, with the longest snowfield about 200 feet, with snowdrifts in spots as high as 5 feet, that hikers are detouring around. Tom Stienstra,, "Yosemite’s high country finally opens to camping, hiking," 17 July 2019 The biologist detoured around the tree and searched in waist-deep water on the other side for Kirkland’s female. Gena Steffens, Smithsonian, "The Snakes That Ate Florida," 11 July 2019 TxDOT is urging drivers taking 610 southbound to detour the traffic by taking the Post Oak exit ramp and re-entering the freeway at the Post Oak southbound entrance ramp. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "Major nightly closure planned for Loop 610 at Post Oak starting Monday," 16 Aug. 2019 Southbound traffic on Denver between Lombard and Watts streets will be detoured to North Interstate Avenue. oregonlive, "Portland metro Tuesday traffic: Time to get your vehicle ready for the rainy season," 17 Sep. 2019 Traffic will be detoured using Interstate 76, Barber Road, Wadsworth Road and Vernon Odom Boulevard. Robin Goist,, "Overnight closures to begin on Romig Road in Akron’s Rolling Acres district," 11 Sep. 2019 Eastbound I-70 closure: To detour around this closure, eastbound I-70 traffic will enter onto northbound I-25, use the off-ramp to eastbound I-76, take southbound I-270 and exit onto eastbound I-70. Sam Tabachnik, The Denver Post, "I-70 is closing in both directions the weekend of Sept. 20. Here’s what you need to know.," 11 Sep. 2019 But the defending champ powered down the stretch while having to detour to the far outside as Toinette drifted out when under attack. Bill Center, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Females put on quite a show on track at Del Mar," 31 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about detour

Statistics for detour

Last Updated

5 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for detour

The first known use of detour was in 1738

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on detour

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for detour

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


concealed or difficult to comprehend

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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!