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

Example Sentences

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 The debate over whether to embrace or eschew new AI technologies reaches well beyond the classroom. Lisa Bonos, Washington Post, 3 Apr. 2023 Lisa Wells, author of Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World, explores modern pilgrimage from a secular perspective, attempting to comprehend the force of conviction that motivates someone to eschew all worldly possessions. Lisa Wells, Harper’s Magazine , 30 Mar. 2023 In eschewing experts, aside from journalists who were there, the series stays on the ground, where the action was. Chris Vognar, Rolling Stone, 22 Mar. 2023 What’s 25-year-old Irish dance-pop artist Jessica Smyth — stage name: Biig Piig — doing in the lineup for this weekend’s CRSSD Festival, the two-day marathon that pointedly eschews EDM in favor of deep-house, techno, neo-disco, tropical-house and other dancer-friendly electronic music styles? San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Mar. 2023 There will be a new drive unit that eschews rare-earth materials like neodymium. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 2 Mar. 2023 Some carmakers, like Tesla, eschew the dealer model in favor of direct-to-consumer sales — but not without fierce pushback from dealers, who have enshrined their primacy in legislation in most states in the US. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, 25 Jan. 2023 As their twin narratives continue, Auburn jostles audience expectations, steering the story away from potentially melodramatic plot points, eschewing sentimentality — even offering a flight of fancy or two. Frank Rizzo, Variety, 26 Apr. 2023 The early albums were all attempts to either eschew or adapt modern rock-radio trends to fit their own tastes. Vulture, 24 Apr. 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 29 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

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