di·rect | \də-ˈrekt, dī-\

Definition of direct 

(Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to turn, move, or point undeviatingly or to follow a straight course X-rays directed through the body

2 : to point, extend, or project in a specified line or course direct the nozzle downward

3a : to regulate the activities or course of directs a staff of over 200 employees

b : to carry out the organizing, energizing, and supervising of direct a project directed a call center

c : to train and lead performances of direct a movie directing a famous actor

d : to dominate and determine the course of … will not find it preposterous that the past should be altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past.— T. S. Eliot

4a : to impart orally directed the remark to her fellow senators

b : to mark with the name and address of the intended recipient

c : to adapt in expression so as to have particular applicability arguments directed at the emotions

d obsolete : to write (a letter) to a person

5 : to show or point out the way for signs directing us to the entrance

6 : to request or enjoin (see enjoin sense 1) with authority the judge directed the jury to acquit

intransitive verb

1 : to act as director of a show or musical ensemble She both acted and directed in the film.

2 : to point out, prescribe, or determine a course or procedure



Definition of direct (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : proceeding from one point to another in time or space without deviation or interruption : straight a direct line

b : proceeding by the shortest way the direct route

2a : stemming immediately from a source direct result

b : being or passing in a straight line of descent from parent to offspring : lineal direct ancestor

c : having no compromising or impairing element a direct insult

3 : natural, straightforward a direct manner asked him to be more direct was direct in her criticism

4a : marked by absence of an intervening agency, instrumentality, or influence making direct observations of nature

b : effected or brought about by the action of the people or the electorate and not by representatives direct democracy

c : consisting of or reproducing the exact words of a speaker or writer a direct quotation

5 : characterized by close logical, causal, or consequential relationship direct evidence

6 astronomy : having or being motion in the general planetary direction from west to east : not retrograde (see retrograde entry 1 sense 1a(1))

7 : capable of dyeing without the aid of a mordant



Definition of direct (Entry 3 of 3)

: in a direct (see direct entry 2) way: such as

a : from point to point without deviation : by the shortest way flew direct to Miami

b : from the source without interruption or diversion (see diversion sense 1) the writer must take his material direct from life— Douglas Stewart

c : without an intervening agency (see agency sense 3) or step buy direct from the manufacturer

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Choose the Right Synonym for direct


command, order, bid, enjoin, direct, instruct, charge mean to issue orders. command and order imply authority and usually some degree of formality and impersonality. command stresses official exercise of authority. a general commanding troops order may suggest peremptory or arbitrary exercise. ordered his employees about like slaves bid suggests giving orders peremptorily (as to children or servants). she bade him be seated enjoin implies giving an order or direction authoritatively and urgently and often with admonition or solicitude. a sign enjoining patrons to be quiet direct and instruct both connote expectation of obedience and usually concern specific points of procedure or method, instruct sometimes implying greater explicitness or formality. directed her assistant to hold all calls the judge instructed the jury to ignore the remark charge adds to enjoin an implication of imposing as a duty or responsibility. charged by the President with a secret mission

conduct, manage, control, direct mean to use one's powers to lead, guide, or dominate. conduct implies taking responsibility for the acts and achievements of a group. conducted negotiations manage implies direct handling and manipulating or maneuvering toward a desired result. manages a meat market control implies a regulating or restraining in order to keep within bounds or on a course. controlling his appetite direct implies constant guiding and regulating so as to achieve smooth operation. directs the store's day-to-day business

Examples of direct in a Sentence


Be sure that the water nozzle is directed downward. The sloping ground helps direct water away from the home. Let me direct your attention to the book's second chapter. We were asked to direct our thoughts and prayers to the people who survived the disaster. The students directed their efforts toward improving their community. A lot of the criticism has been directed toward the concert's organizers. He is responsible for directing the activities of the sales team. In my current position, I direct a staff of over 200 employees. We need someone to direct traffic.


I found a more direct route to the city. That way is more direct. Keep these plants out of direct sunlight. The coastline was exposed to the direct force of the hurricane. The weather had a direct effect on our plans. There's a direct connection between the two events. The investigation began in direct response to the newspaper story.


It costs less if you buy it direct from the manufacturer. flew direct to the coast
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The animated movie is directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, and written by Tartakovsky and Michael McCullers. Erin Nyren,, "'Hotel Transylvania 3' sailing to $40 million-plus debut, 'Skyscraper' to disappoint," 14 July 2018 Not least among them count the hundreds of islanders who committed suicide, as directed by Emperor Hirohito, who advised them that this would be preferable to surrender. Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, "‘The Pacific War in Color: The Enemy Underground’ Review: War, Vividly Rendered," 12 July 2018 Sharp Objects is based on the book by Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn and directed by Big Little Lies’s Jean-Marc Vallée, working with showrunner Marti Noxon of UnReal and Buffy, and the new show marks a perfect melding of the sensibilities of all three. Anna Silman, The Cut, "Sharp Objects," 11 July 2018 This production is directed by Joel Grey, who does not speak Yiddish, and performed by a cast of 26, three-quarters of whom also do not speak the language. Joseph Berger, New York Times, "How Do You Say ‘Tradition’ in Yiddish?," 11 July 2018 First, an important disclaimer: Birth control, like any medication, should be taken as directed by the prescribing information and your doctor. Korin Miller, SELF, "Is There Any Reliable Way to Make Your Period Come Faster?," 11 July 2018 The show is also directed by Big Little Lies' Jean-Marc Vallée and was adapted for the screen by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and UnReal's Marti Nixon. Morgan Baila,, "Sharp Objects Premiere Recap: Home Is Where The Murder Is," 9 July 2018 Like 2017’s Big Little Lies, Sharp Objects is directed in its entirety by the French filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée and adapted from a book—in this case, from the debut novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Twisted, Enthralling Rot of Sharp Objects," 7 July 2018 The new Ant-Man is written and directed by dudes, but Captain Marvel has several women—including Guardians of the Galaxy scribe Nicole Perlman and co-director Anna Boden—working behind the scenes. Angela Watercutter, WIRED, "Why Ant-Man and the Wasp's Heroine Is a Crystal Ball for Marvel," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Of course, each individual American household is also just a small group of people in a big country and the direct impact on individual human beings can still be large. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The impact of Trump’s trade wars, explained," 9 July 2018 Lawmakers fled after failing to agree on measures to give citizens direct, at-the-ballot-box say in reducing the legislature’s size, fighting gerrymandering, and allowing merit selection of state judges. John Baer,, "Two Pa. House and Senate leaders (sorta) defend our lackluster legislature | John Baer," 1 July 2018 And direct: Most of the cameras for the scene are fixed to his helicopter in different positions. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "The Secrets of Summer 2018's Greatest Movie Stunts and Effects," 20 June 2018 More direct, more political, more passionate, more ambitious in his destinations: places like Libya, Tehran, the West Bank. Brad Rickman, Condé Nast Traveler, "Remembering Anthony Bourdain," 8 June 2018 The resolution would also order all countries to immediately prevent the direct or indirect supply or sale of weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and other equipment and spare parts to South Sudan until May 31, 2019. Fox News, "UN to vote on arms embargo and new sanctions on South Sudan," 13 July 2018 Baker has made the case for direct, public financing drug research through a tripling of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "It’s Normal for the U.S. to Put Corporate Profits Above Babies’ Health," 10 July 2018 Most of the rest was inferred using direct or indirect indicators, such as by taking the number of housing starts as a proxy for dollars invested in new home construction. Jason Furman, WSJ, "The Economy Is Growing Faster Than the Government Says," 9 July 2018 According to a study conducted by Martin Associates in 2016, the most recent, the port contributed to nearly 45,000 direct, induced and indirect jobs and $7.4 billion in economic impact from business service revenue and re-spending and consumption. Chabeli Herrera, miamiherald, "Despite recent dredge, PortMiami still can't fit some large ships. New project in the works," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

JTACs are the airmen on the ground who direct during close air support and strike operations alongside other services' troops. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Air Force tests two turboprops as potential A-10 “replacements”," 19 June 2018 Whatever your personal lesson was, keep it in mind after this planet goes direct next week., "This 4-Month Retrograde Will End Next Week — Is Your Luck About To Change?," 5 July 2018 The hit show reveals how top-charting Billboard artists’ biggest hits came to be by combining stories direct from the artists themselves with fun animation and sound effects. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "Billboard Debuts 'How It Went Down' on IGTV With Story Behind Troye Sivan's 'My My My'," 21 June 2018 On July 10, Jupiter will finally turn direct, so from July 10 – November 8, you will be well positioned for a serious commitment and a very exciting one with such a strong Jupiter. Rebecca Gordon, Harper's BAZAAR, "How to Find Summer Romance According to the Stars," 21 June 2018 Today, Sophie Monet Jewelry is sold direct-to-consumer but also in shops like Anthropologie and Lane Crawford, as well as a wide array of independent stores across the world. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Meet the Venice Beach Jewelry Designer Who Works Side-by-Side With Her Dad," 15 June 2018 Mulford and her staff plan seasonal menus, sourcing ingredients direct from New England farmers, butchers, and cheesemongers., "Let Uncommon Feasts do the cooking," 11 June 2018 Though Gazans direct much of their anger at Israel, many are also frustrated with Hamas and its secular rival Fatah, which leads the Palestinian Authority, headquartered in Ramallah, in the West Bank. Alexandra Zavis,, "In Gaza Strip protests, the anger has many targets," 14 May 2018 Sarandos was also asked about the move by traditional media players to go direct-to-consumer. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, "Ted Sarandos Says Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes "Don't Care" About Netflix Viewership Numbers," 14 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'direct.' 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 direct


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 4d


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 6


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for direct


Middle English, from Anglo-French directer, from Latin directus straight, from past participle of dirigere to direct — more at dress


Middle English, from Latin directus — see direct entry 1


see direct entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near direct







direct action

Phrases Related to direct

direct debit

Statistics for direct

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for direct

The first known use of direct was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for direct



English Language Learners Definition of direct

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to cause (someone or something) to turn, move, or point in a particular way

: to cause (someone's attention, thoughts, emotions, etc.) to relate to a particular person, thing, goal, etc.

: to say (something) to a particular person or group



English Language Learners Definition of direct (Entry 2 of 3)

: going the shortest distance from one place to another : going straight without turning or stopping

: coming straight from a source

: coming straight from a cause or reason : connected or related to something in a clear way



English Language Learners Definition of direct (Entry 3 of 3)

: in a straight line without turning or stopping

: straight from a source with nothing and nobody in between


di·rect | \də-ˈrekt, dī-\
directed; directing

Kids Definition of direct

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : to cause to point or move in a particular direction Direct your light over here.

2 : to cause to focus on direct your attention

3 : to show or tell the way Signs directed us to the exit.

4 : to put an address on direct a letter

5 : order entry 1 sense 2, command Bake as directed.

6 : to manage or control the making or activities of direct a play She directs a large company.



Kids Definition of direct (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : going from one point to another without turning or stopping : straight a direct route

2 : coming straight from a cause or source … the skunk … sprayed Brian with a direct shot …— Gary Paulsen, Hatchet

3 : said or done in a clear and honest way a direct answer

4 : being in an unbroken family line a direct ancestor

5 : exact entry 1 a direct translation a direct hit

Other Words from direct

directness noun



Kids Definition of direct (Entry 3 of 3)

: directly sense 1 I flew direct to Paris.


Legal Definition of direct 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : to order with authority the testator directed that the car go to his niece

2 : to order entry of (a verdict) without jury consideration the court directed a verdict in favor of the defendant

3 : to act as director of

intransitive verb

: to act as director



Legal Definition of direct (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : stemming immediately from a source direct costs a direct claim — compare derivative

b : being or passing in a straight line from parent to offspring : lineal a direct ancestor — compare collateral

2 : marked by absence of any intervening agency, instrumentality, or influence direct consequences

3 : effected by the action of the people or the electorate and not by representatives direct democracy

4 : characterized by close logical, causal, or consequential relationship a direct interest in the outcome of the litigation

Other Words from direct

directly adverb



Legal Definition of direct (Entry 3 of 3)

: direct examination testimony given on direct

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