di·​rect | \ də-ˈrekt How to pronounce direct (audio) , dī- \
directed; directing; directs

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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Synonyms & Antonyms for direct

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adverb

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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

Verb 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. Adjective 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. Adverb 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 Another, also kneeling, looks up and back to her sister angel, who directs our attention over to the kneeling Richard. Willard Spiegelman, WSJ, "A Mystery Meets the Mystical," 17 Jan. 2020 Three publishers control 80 percent of the U.S. textbook market and have used their share to drive up prices, said Kaitlyn Vitez, who directs U.S. PIRG’s campaign to make higher education more affordable. Washington Post, "Textbooks keep getting pricier. So students are getting creative.," 17 Jan. 2020 Seven hours later, another Republican governor, Indiana’s Eric Holcomb, used his State of the State address to make a similar promise, unveiling a plan that would direct at least $50 million this year toward boosting teacher pay. Erin Einhorn, NBC News, "Republican governors are giving teachers raises — but some teachers want more," 16 Jan. 2020 They are joined by filmmaker J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom), who is directing the first two episodes and serving as an executive producer, along with his partner, Belén Atienza. Eric Todisco,, "Lord of the Rings," 15 Jan. 2020 Greta Gerwig, who directed Little Women, was the top choice among many critics, who thought a woman deserved to be nominated for Best Director. John Gage, Washington Examiner, "'All-male': Oscar host congratulates 'those men' nominated for best director," 13 Jan. 2020 Larry Busch, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who directed security for U.S. presidents and royals, told Reuters. Megan Mccluskey, Time, "How Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Might Become Financially Independent of the Royal Family," 10 Jan. 2020 The law was meant to empower Congress to pass legislation that directs a president to terminate military action unless lawmakers have explicitly voted to authorize it. New York Times, "House Votes to Restrain Trump’s Iran War Powers," 9 Jan. 2020 Jason Bateman, who directs the first two episodes, plays a little-league coach implicated in the crime until new evidence emerges. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Most Unmissable TV Shows of 2020," 9 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Perhaps the most impressive play design: a flea-flicker in which running back Hassan Haskins took the direct snap before flipping it back to quarterback Shea Patterson, who hit Donovan Peoples-Jones across the middle for 34 yards. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football leads Alabama at halftime of Citrus Bowl: Our observations," 1 Jan. 2020 This prevents direct contact between the fragrant zest and the juicing press and holds the flow of lime oil to a mere trickle, perfectly tuned to add subtle harmonies in the background. Ali Bouzari,, "Housemade: How Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant highlights quality Tequila in its margaritas," 30 Dec. 2019 While money can bring an advantage in advertising, the work of direct voter contact—whether canvassing door to door or through phone-banking—is often done by volunteers. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Bloomberg’s presidential campaign used prison labor to solicit votes," 24 Dec. 2019 Samuel takes the direct snap in the wildcat and runs around left end for 7. oregonlive, "Seattle Seahawks hang on - again - to defeat the Carolina Panthers: Live updates recap, score, stats and more," 15 Dec. 2019 In the second quarter, Roman called for a direct snap to Mark Ingram II on second-and-goal, doing the defense a favor by effectively removing the threat of Jackson from the play. Childs Walker,, "Five Things We Learned from the Ravens’ 24-17 win over the Buffalo Bills," 9 Dec. 2019 Seibert received the direct snap and punted the ball to the 1-yard line, where it was downed by Stephen Carlson. Scott Patsko, cleveland, "Browns Winners and Losers: Streaks, the secondary and a pooch kick," 2 Dec. 2019 Mills took a direct snap on the next play and scored on a 11-yad run up the middle to help the Cornhuskers take a 7-0 lead with 5:27 left.t That lead lasted 11 seconds. Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin 37, Nebraska 21: Jonathan Taylor surpasses NCAA rushing mark through junior season," 16 Nov. 2019 The transparency and low commitment cost kept players coming back and — combined with direct payments for skins and other cosmetics offered outside of the battle pass — suddenly the industry found a winning formula. Gene Park, Washington Post, "The most influential games of the decade," 19 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb One day, Iran Air could fly direct to Los Angeles, to Houston. Washington Post, "‘Thugs killing people’s children’: U.S. issues more visa bans for Iranians tied to protest repression," 19 Dec. 2019 Airport Executive Director Tim Bannon said that means private international flights can arrive direct, rather than stopping elsewhere to clear customs. USA TODAY, "Rosa Parks statue, newborn polar bear cub, quake rocks Oregon: News from around our 50 states," 2 Dec. 2019 Henry Wishcamper will direct, Malcolm Ruhl will music direct, Andrew Hansen will compose and Tommy Rapley will choreograph. Hannah Herrera Greenspan,, "Booked it! Chicago casting announcements for Oct. 17," 17 Oct. 2019 The airline believes people will pay a premium to fly direct from New York to Sydney without a stop in Los Angeles. Tom Costello, NBC News, "Doing the 'Macarena' at 2 a.m. on Qantas' record-breaking 19-hour flight," 21 Oct. 2019 The latest comes direct from the world of hand jives, baby. Nick Romano,, "Grease TV musical spin-off Rydell High ordered at HBO Max," 15 Oct. 2019 Currently, Refuse Club is sold direct-to-consumer in the United States, but will soon expand sales to the designers’ native China. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Meet the Two Recent Parsons Grads Who Are Challenging China’s Anti-#MeToo Movement With Fashion," 4 Feb. 2019 In our last analysis, 90% of the 1,000 biggest foundations in the country direct less than half of their dollars to benefit underserved communities. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "Leadership Lessons From the VMAs: raceAhead," 27 Aug. 2019 In addition to a Fall 2019 collection that pulls prints direct from Bourgeois’s work, there is a small but mighty collaboration with Bourgeois’s own estate and the Hauser & Wirth art gallery: jewelry! Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Simone Rocha Hosts an Intimate Evening to Celebrate Her Louise Bourgeois Collaboration," 2 May 2019

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

Verb and Adverb

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

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Time Traveler for direct

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for direct

Last Updated

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Direct.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for direct


How to pronounce direct (audio)

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 How to pronounce direct (audio) , 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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More from Merriam-Webster on direct

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for direct

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with direct

Spanish Central: Translation of direct

Nglish: Translation of direct for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of direct for Arabic Speakers

Comments on direct

What made you want to look up direct? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be intimidated or subdued

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