di·​gress | \ dī-ˈgres How to pronounce digress (audio) , də- \
digressed; digressing; digresses

Definition of digress

intransitive verb

: to turn aside especially from the main subject of attention or course of argument

Choose the Right Synonym for digress

swerve, veer, deviate, depart, digress, diverge mean to turn aside from a straight course. swerve may suggest a physical, mental, or moral turning away from a given course, often with abruptness. swerved to avoid hitting the dog veer implies a major change in direction. at that point the path veers to the right deviate implies a turning from a customary or prescribed course. never deviated from her daily routine depart suggests a deviation from a traditional or conventional course or type. occasionally departs from his own guidelines digress applies to a departing from the subject of one's discourse. a professor prone to digress diverge may equal depart but usually suggests a branching of a main path into two or more leading in different directions. after school their paths diverged

But I Digress

The verb digress is often encountered in the phrase “but I digress.” This is an idiomatic expression that has been in use in English for many hundreds of years. Examples may be found as far back as 1653, when Edmund Hall used “but I digress” in his A Scriptural Discourse of the Apostasie and the Antichrist. The phrase is used, often jocularly, by speakers and writers to indicate that they have veered away from the subject that they had been speaking or writing of, and intend to return to it.

Examples of digress in a Sentence

The third visit, the first one after I started the drugs, is shorter, more perfunctory than the first two. Papakostas moves briskly from one question to the next and looks at his watch if we digress. — Gary Greenberg, Harper's, May 2007 Coleridge, of course, who happily called himself a … lover of parentheses, does not bridle himself, but merely produces digressions about how he should not digress. — James Wood, New Republic, 6 Sept. 1999 He had not written too much per se; he had digressed intolerably given the significance of the events under consideration. — Alain de Botton, How Proust Can Change Your Life, 1997 He digressed so often that it was hard to follow what he was saying. If I can digress for a moment, I'd like to briefly mention her earlier films.
Recent Examples on the Web It’s now useful to digress briefly into what money is. John Tamny, Forbes, 17 Apr. 2022 The pair often digress into Chicago-high-school-basketball minutiae, memories of seeing palm trees for the first time. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, 29 Mar. 2021 The book doesn't follow a conventional narrative structure and digresses a lot -- a polite way of saying there's not much of a plot. Brandon Griggs, CNN, 10 May 2020 In the meantime, here are four steps to work through emotions when navigating challenges without digressing to gossip or suppressing our true feelings. 1. NBC News, 24 Oct. 2019 More Stories Some of these plot elements come straight from Lethem’s novel, but many don’t—and the ways in which Norton digresses from the original are both radical and baffling. David Sims, The Atlantic, 31 Oct. 2019 The movie repeatedly digresses, however, to explore several other interludes that basically parachute in, exposing tentacles of the operation in a way that's moderately interesting but dramatically numbing. Brian Lowry, CNN, 27 Sep. 2019 Faculty regularly make off-topic jabs at Trump or the Republicans, or even end up digressing into full-on rants. Musa Al-gharbi, National Review, 9 Sep. 2019 Fans need reason to move on from a historically bad 2018 and reason to digress from pondering a potentially murky future. Mike Anthony, courant.com, 29 Aug. 2019 See More

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

First Known Use of digress

1529, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for digress

Latin digressus, past participle of digredi, from dis- + gradi to step — more at grade entry 1

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The first known use of digress was in 1529

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Last Updated

25 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Digress.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/digress. Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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