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

The 20-20-20 rule is a good one to practice: Every 20 minutes, divert your eyes from your screen to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Korin Miller, SELF, "This Is Why Your Eyes Get So Damn Dry—and How to Fix It," 14 Aug. 2018 With changing consumer tastes, Smucker, like many other food companies, is diverting its efforts to investing in faster growing businesses, such as coffee. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "The Pillsbury Doughboy Will Soon Have a New Home," 10 July 2018 Nothing to explain why the heavy machinery stopped paving through the farms, and the traffic gets diverted to surface streets. Nick Stockton, WIRED, "Laser-Shooting Planes Uncover the Horror and Humanity of World War I," 9 July 2018 The settlement that Riza’s Red Granite Pictures reached addressed one among two dozen forfeiture lawsuits filed by the U.S. against $1.7 billion of assets that were allegedly acquired through money diverted from 1MDB. Time, "Wolf of Wall Street," 4 July 2018 Lisa Lightman, the director of the Collaborative Court for the San Francisco Superior Court, said the program diverts clients from the traditional court case management to better align with their brain development and individual experiences. Lauren Hernandez, SFChronicle.com, "Graduates of Young Adult Court in SF get second chance to beat the odds," 28 June 2018 Distract and divert the attacker’s attention by making a scene and being noisy to draw the attention of others. Kasandra Brabaw, refinery29.com, "Please Don't Forget About Safety During Pride," 22 June 2018 The footage shows the cops diverting several cars to get the snake out of harm's way. Christopher Brito, CBS News, "Police officers halt traffic to help snake cross busy Virginia street," 19 June 2018 But what defines the book most of all, and makes it such a diverting pleasure, is Doonan’s palpable affection for his subject, skin-tight Dsquared jumpsuits, Chrome Hearts man jewelry, tiger tattoos, and all. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Glorious, Bizarre History of Soccer and Fashion," 18 June 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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Statistics for divert

Last Updated

14 Nov 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).


by force of circumstances

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