es·​chew e-ˈshü How to pronounce eschew (audio)
es-ˈchü How to pronounce eschew (audio)
 also  e-ˈskyü
eschewed; eschewing; eschews

transitive verb

: to avoid habitually especially on moral or practical grounds : shun
e-ˈshü-əl How to pronounce eschew (audio)
 also  e-ˈskyü-

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.

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of eschew in a Sentence

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
A fair number of academics eschew the simple title "professor" and call themselves economists, astronomers, historians, philosophers. Tracy Kidder, Home Town, 1999
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
They now eschew the violence of their past. a psychologist who eschews the traditional methods of psychotherapy
Recent Examples on the Web Recently, though, high interest rates have driven investors to eschew longer-term Treasurys. Andrew Duehren, WSJ, 16 Nov. 2023 Generally, though, Dawson prefers to eschew simple categorization. Jeff Ihaza, Rolling Stone, 1 Nov. 2023 Wife Melania Trump has also largely stayed away from the campaign, eschewing the spotlight as other candidates trot out their spouses. Isaac Arnsdorf, Washington Post, 1 Nov. 2023 But to date, Beijing has decided to constrain its military-to-military communications with the United States to the bare minimum and eschew serious discussions with Washington about crisis management. David M. Finkelstein, Foreign Affairs, 4 Oct. 2023 Her recipes eschew pandering to Western cooking methods and tastes and instead offer up the cooking true to Nigeria. L.a. Times Food Staff, Los Angeles Times, 1 Nov. 2023 Chelsea, meanwhile, eschewed the traditional white dress for a blush pink one. Elise Taylor, Vogue, 19 Oct. 2023 Early people weathered the Last Ice Age in the significantly cooler uplands of central Spain, eschewing the warmer coastlines, according to a new archaeological survey. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 9 Oct. 2023 Experts recommend shaving ahead of each appointment so that the laser can target the root, rather than the end of the hair, and that for facial treatments, makeup should be eschewed. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, 25 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'eschew.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of eschew was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near eschew

Cite this Entry

“Eschew.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


es·​chew is-ˈchü How to pronounce eschew (audio)
: shun, avoid

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