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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Cramming this much historical minutiae into 20 chapters can make the book feel disjointed at times, but Kurlansky fans expect and enjoy his generous narratives, chock-full of curious if occasionally digressing facts. Elaine Khosrova, WSJ, "‘Milk!’ Review: Food History Worth Nursing," 7 May 2018 Commissioner Richard Ross opened his remarks by thanking the class’s family and friends for their support, and then digressed. Tommy Rowan, Philly.com, "Son of SEPTA police chief joins the family business," 15 Dec. 2017 Her comments in Parliament rarely digressed from that script. Tim Ross, Bloomberg.com, "U.K.'s May Backed Over No-Deal Stance as Brexit Stakes Rise," 10 Oct. 2017 Trump digressed often from the virtues of Strange and into discussions of border walls and North Korea and football players. Avi Selk, Washington Post, "No, Mr. President, you did not invent the name ‘Big Luther’ Strange," 23 Sep. 2017 The nearly two-minute ad starts off with the pop star in the recording studio, but then digresses into various distractions (mostly in the form of food). Valentina Zarya, Fortune, "Watch Taylor Swift Talk to Her Cat, Eat Cookie Dough, and Beat Up Andy Samberg," 7 Sep. 2017 Trump himself can not be trusted to speak at a funeral without digressing into lies about the historic nature of his electoral college victory. Brian Beutler, New Republic, "Donald Trump Is America’s Most Irredeemable Man," 18 Aug. 2017 The clock was sputtering toward midnight when Enzi took the floor, digressing like your uncle after a scotch. Ben Terris, sacbee, "‘Wait for the show’: High drama and low voices in a long, weird night at the Capitol," 28 July 2017 And midway through Saturday's rant about her Delta trip, Coulter digressed to plug JetBlue's free WiFi. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Conservative commentator Ann Coulter slams Delta for switching her out of a pre-booked seat," 16 July 2017

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for digress

The first known use of digress was in 1529

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English Language Learners Definition of digress

: to speak or write about something that is different from the main subject being discussed

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More from Merriam-Webster on digress

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with digress

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for digress

Spanish Central: Translation of digress

Nglish: Translation of digress for Spanish Speakers

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