di·​va·​gate ˈdī-və-ˌgāt How to pronounce divagate (audio) ˈdi- How to pronounce divagate (audio)
divagated; divagating

intransitive verb

: to wander or stray from a course or subject : diverge, digress
divagation noun

Did you know?

The Origin of Divagate

Divagate hasn't wandered far in meaning from its Latin ancestors. It descends from the verb divagari, which comes from dis-, meaning "apart," and vagari, meaning "to wander." Vagari also gave us vagabond, meaning "a wanderer with no home," and extravagant, an early, now archaic, sense of which was "wandering away." Latin vagari is also probably the source of our noun vagary, which now usually means "whim or caprice" but originally meant "journey, excursion, or tour." Even the verb stray may have evolved from vagari, by way of Vulgar Latin extravagare. Today, divagate can suggest a wandering or straying that is literal (as in "the hikers divagated from the trail"), but it is more often used figuratively (as in "she divagated from the topic").

Word History


Late Latin divagatus, past participle of divagari, from Latin dis- + vagari to wander — more at vagary

First Known Use

1599, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of divagate was in 1599


Dictionary Entries Near divagate

Cite this Entry

“Divagate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divagate. Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!