di·​vert | \ də-ˈvərt How to pronounce divert (audio) , dī- \
diverted; diverting; diverts

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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Steve Bannon, who has been indicted for defrauding GoFundMe campaign donors in order to divert funds to Trump’s border wall, could receive such a pardon, as could Trump’s children and his son-in-law, who haven’t yet been indicted. Jeannie Suk Gersen, The New Yorker, "The Dangerous Possibilities of Trump’s Pardon Power," 3 Dec. 2020 Voters also appeared to back a ballot measure that would divert more Los Angeles County funds to social services and jail diversion programs,. Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, "From George Gascón to jail diversion, criminal justice reform got a big boost in California," 4 Nov. 2020 But the Natural Resources Council of Maine questions the claim and says the project would divert money that could otherwise support expanded offshore wind. Stephen Singer, courant.com, "Environmentalists split in their opposition to New England’s latest power transmission line," 23 Sep. 2020 City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee voted 3-2 earlier Tuesday against Cranley’s motion to divert streetcar fare money, but the idea is not dead yet. Sharon Coolidge, The Enquirer, "Cincinnati Bell Connector set for Wednesday restart. Mayor vetoes free fares.," 1 Sep. 2020 Some metro trauma hospitals have recently had to divert patients to other facilities because of capacity shortages, Krinkie said. Glenn Howatt, Star Tribune, "745 new COVID-19 cases as Minnesota surpasses 1 million tests," 30 July 2020 Critics said that the return of sports would only worsen the spread and would divert invaluable resources like personal protective equipment and testing away from communities in need. Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, "LeBron James, Naomi Osaka and Dak Prescott: 20 sports figures who made the world a better place in 2020," 18 Dec. 2020 Advocates for a smaller department see it as a crucial opportunity to divert police resources into mental health services and alternative responses to nonviolent emergency calls. Eric Roper, Star Tribune, "Minneapolis City Council divided over whether to redirect money from police," 5 Dec. 2020 As the number of people hospitalized with COVID continues to rise, some surgeries are being delayed at UAB Hospital to divert resources to critically ill patients, said Dr. Sarah Nafziger, a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine. al, "UAB delays some elective surgeries as COVID cases rise," 4 Dec. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of divert

15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for divert

Middle English diverten "to turn in a certain direction, turn away, direct one's mind," borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French divertir, borrowed (with conjugation change) from Medieval Latin dīvertere "to turn aside, deflect, alienate (property), depart," continuing both Latin dīvertere "to separate oneself (from), be different, diverge" (from dī-, variant before voiced sounds of dis- dis- + vertere "to cause to revolve, turn, spin") and dēvertere "to turn away, divert, make a turn aside/detour," from dē- de- + vertere — more at worth entry 4

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about divert

Time Traveler for divert

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for divert

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Divert.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divert. Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for divert


How to pronounce divert (audio)

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 How to pronounce divert (audio) , 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- How to pronounce divert (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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