verb es·chew \e-ˈshü, i-; es-ˈchü, is-; also e-ˈskyü\

Definition of eschew

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to avoid habitually especially on moral or practical grounds :  shun


play \e-ˈshü-əl, i-; es-ˈchü-, is-; also e-ˈskyü-\ noun

eschew was our Word of the Day on 05/30/2012. Hear the podcast!

Examples of eschew in a sentence

  1. Though a doctor with psychiatric training, he eschewed the science that had so enamored earlier child-rearing professionals … —Sue Halpern, New York Review of Books, 29 May 2003

  2. A fair number of academics eschew the simple title “professor” and call themselves economists, astronomers, historians, philosophers. —Tracy Kidder, Home Town, 1999

  3. When introduced to a stranger, he eschewed formalities, stuck out a gnarled right hand and responded with a chummy, “Hermann.” —Tim Layden, Sports Illustrated, 2 Feb. 1998

  4. They now eschew the violence of their past.

  5. a psychologist who eschews the traditional methods of psychotherapy

Did You Know?

Eschew derives from the Anglo-French verb eschiver and is akin to the Old High German verb sciuhen ("to frighten off"), an ancestor of our word shy. In his famous dictionary of 1755 Dr. Samuel Johnson characterized "eschew" as "almost obsolete." History has proven that the great lexicographer was wrong on that call, however. William Thackeray found "eschew" alive enough to use it almost one hundred years later in his classic novel Vanity Fair: "He has already eschewed green coats, red neckcloths, and other worldly ornaments." The word swelled in usage in English during the 19th and 20th centuries and is now common enough to be included even in small paperback dictionaries.

Origin and Etymology of eschew

Middle English, from Anglo-French eschiver (3d present eschiu) of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German sciuhen to frighten off — more at shy

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of eschew

escape, avoid, evade, elude, shun, eschew mean to get away or keep away from something. escape stresses the fact of getting away or being passed by not necessarily through effort or by conscious intent nothing escapes her sharp eyes. avoid stresses forethought and caution in keeping clear of danger or difficulty try to avoid past errors. evade implies adroitness, ingenuity, or lack of scruple in escaping or avoiding evaded the question by changing the subject. elude implies a slippery or baffling quality in the person or thing that escapes what she sees in him eludes me. shun often implies an avoiding as a matter of habitual practice or policy and may imply repugnance or abhorrence you have shunned your responsibilities. eschew implies an avoiding or abstaining from as unwise or distasteful a playwright who eschews melodrama.

ESCHEW Defined for English Language Learners


verb es·chew \e-ˈshü, i-; es-ˈchü, is-; also e-ˈskyü\

Definition of eschew for English Language Learners

  • : to avoid (something) especially because you do not think it is right, proper, etc.

Seen and Heard

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


to criticize severely

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.