verb di·vert \ də-ˈvərt , dī- \
|Updated on: 8 Aug 2018

Definition of divert

: to turn aside : deviate
  • studied law but diverted to diplomacy
1 a : 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

Examples of divert in a Sentence

  1. Police diverted traffic to a side street.

  2. The stream was diverted toward the farmland.

  3. They were charged with illegally diverting public funds for private use.

  4. He lied to divert attention from the real situation.

  5. They're only proposing the law to divert attention from important issues.

Recent Examples of divert from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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

DIVERT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of divert for English Language Learners

  • : 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

DIVERT Defined for Kids


verb di·vert \ də-ˈvərt , dī- \

Definition of divert for Students

diverted; diverting
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.

Word Root of divert

The Latin word vertere, meaning “to turn” or “to change,” and its form versus give us the roots vert and vers. Words from the Latin vertere have something to do with turning or changing. Anything versatile, or able to do or be used for many different things, can change its task easily. A vertebra is a bone in the spine that allows an animal to turn its head or body. To avert is to turn away. To divert is to turn aside onto a new path. To revert is to turn back to a former way of being.

Law Dictionary


transitive verb 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



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fullness to the point of excess

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