di·vert | \də-ˈvərt, dī-\

Definition of divert 

intransitive verb

: to turn aside : deviate studied law but diverted to diplomacy

transitive verb

1a : to turn from one course or use to another : deflect divert traffic to a side street diverting funds to other projects

b : distract trying to divert her attention

2 : to give pleasure to especially by distracting the attention from what burdens or distresses children diverting themselves with their toys

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Choose the Right Synonym for divert

amuse, divert, entertain mean to pass or cause to pass the time pleasantly. amuse suggests that one's attention is engaged lightly. amuse yourselves while I make dinner divert implies distracting attention from worry or routine occupation especially by something funny. a light comedy to divert the tired businessman entertain suggests supplying amusement by specially contrived methods. a magician entertaining children at a party

Examples of divert in a Sentence

Police diverted traffic to a side street. The stream was diverted toward the farmland. They were charged with illegally diverting public funds for private use. He lied to divert attention from the real situation. They're only proposing the law to divert attention from important issues.
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Recent Examples on the Web

If you are attacked, a backpack or stick can help as defense and taking a high-pitched whistle or dog treats to divert an animal as a precaution are a good ideas, according to such online site as as www.expertecuritytips.com and www.pethelpful.com. Mike Danahey, Elgin Courier-News, "Couple attacked, woman bit by stray dogs running in Elgin forest preserve, police say," 7 June 2018 Two south suburbs that for years have owed millions in past due water bills to Chicago have been improperly diverting money designated to pay those debts in favor of funding other operations, court filings allege. Zak Koeske, Daily Southtown, "Chicago seeks court-appointed receiver to ensure 2 south suburbs pay back millions in overdue water bills," 20 Apr. 2018 During that period, Zemo conducted about 80 transactions diverting money for his employer to himself and to U.S. Gulf Trade Inc., a company formed by his co-conspirator. Laura Mcknight, NOLA.com, "River Ridge man accused in scheme to steal $1M from stevedore company," 12 Apr. 2018 So Pritzker sent me an e-mail pointing out that Biss had voted to support charter schools, thus diverting money from public ones. Ben Joravsky, Chicago Reader, "Pritzker, Biss, and Kennedy see the light—just in time for the primary," 2 Mar. 2018 Canova said the efforts diverted money and staff time that otherwise would have gone into fundraising operations. Anthony Man, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Tim Canova isn't repeating fundraising magic in rematch against Wasserman Schultz," 23 Feb. 2018 Anyone who’s watched much network news, especially CNN and MSNBC, in the last year understands that (barring natural disasters or mass shootings) there is very little that can divert them from their laser-like focus on the Russia investigation. Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, "State of the Union: Imagine CNN for an Hour without Russia," 1 Feb. 2018 The northbound turn lane is blocked, drivers are being diverted to southbound Broadway. Ruth Brown, idahostatesman, "Motorcyclist injured on eastbound I-84 off-ramp, traffic diverted," 11 July 2018 Because Alexander faces a charge of felony second-degree assault of an elderly person, the family violence staff at the Enfield courthouse did not ask that his case be diverted to their program at the time of his arrest in March. David Owens, courant.com, "Judge Denies Former State Rep Alexander's Effort To Avoid Prosecution In Assault Case," 5 July 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for divert

Middle English, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French divertir, from Latin divertere to turn in opposite directions, from dis- + vertere to turn — more at worth

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Phrases Related to divert

divert/distract attention

Statistics for divert

Last Updated

3 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for divert

The first known use of divert was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for divert



English Language Learners Definition of divert

: to change the direction or use of (something)

: to take (attention) away from someone or something

: to take the attention of (someone) away from something or someone


di·vert | \də-ˈvərt, dī-\
diverted; diverting

Kids Definition of divert

1 : to turn from one path or use to another Police diverted traffic.

2 : to turn the attention away : distract Bagman opened his mouth to ask Harry something, but Percy diverted him.— J. K. Rowling, Goblet of Fire

3 : to give pleasure to : amuse Paint and paper diverted the children.

di·vert | \də-ˈvərt, dī- \

Legal Definition of divert 

1 : to turn from one course or use to another funds illegally diverted

2 : to place (a defendant) under a diversion

Other Words from divert

diverter noun

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Comments on divert

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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