in·​di·​rect ˌin-də-ˈrekt How to pronounce indirect (audio)
: not direct: such as
: deviating from a direct line or course : roundabout
: not going straight to the point
an indirect accusation
: being or involving proof of a proposition or theorem by demonstration that its negation leads to an absurdity or contradiction
: not straightforward and open : deceitful
: not directly aimed at or achieved
indirect consequences
: stating what a real or supposed original speaker said with changes in wording that conform the statement grammatically to the sentence in which it is included
indirect discourse
an indirect question
: not effected by the action of the people or the electorate
indirect government representation
indirectly adverb
indirectness noun

Examples of indirect in a Sentence

We took an indirect route. These plants grow best in bright indirect light. He gave only vague, indirect answers to our questions. They used indirect methods of investigation. There were many indirect references to his earlier books. Looking at her watch was her indirect way of telling him it was time to leave. Poor nutrition may have been an indirect cause of the disease. The cigarette stubs were indirect evidence that someone had been smoking in the room. “He said that he would call later,” is an example of indirect speech since his actual words were “I'll call later.” an indirect question such as “She asked whether the doctor had arrived” See More
Recent Examples on the Web Studies show that leaders and managers are consequently more susceptible to burnout, even though, ironically, they are supposed to be the very ones motivating and inspiring their direct and indirect reports. Rachel Wells, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 To prolong the life of your blooms, place your Easter lily in bright, indirect light in a cool, but not drafty, spot in your home. Mary Shannon Wells, Southern Living, 29 Jan. 2024 But the Houthis’ attacks are no longer only or even mostly aimed at ships with direct or indirect Israeli links. Noam Raydan, Foreign Affairs, 6 Feb. 2024 And in this small world of wives and girlfriends, several have direct and indirect ties to the most famous of the Kansas City Chiefs’ WAGs — Taylor Swift — and her boyfriend, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Lisa Gutierrez, Kansas City Star, 5 Feb. 2024 The country’s direct and indirect control over global critical-mineral supplies — the raw materials for renewable-energy technologies — has put it at a significant competitive advantage. Alina Clough, National Review, 1 Feb. 2024 Jefferies said while Diageo wouldn’t be directly affected by any backlash from China, the group faced an indirect exposure at 2-3% of net income from its joint venture with Bernard Arnault’s LVMH, Reuters reported. Ryan Hogg, Fortune Europe, 30 Jan. 2024 Gaia data allow scientists to detect gas clouds through their stars, but the method is indirect, done via a proxy of a proxy. Ann Finkbeiner, Scientific American, 16 Jan. 2024 This is about to change after legislation passed by Congress in December allows the Space Force to charge indirect fees to commercial providers. Stephen Clark, Ars Technica, 19 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'indirect.' 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 Medieval Latin indirectus, from Latin in- + directus direct — more at dress

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near indirect

Cite this Entry

“Indirect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


in·​di·​rect ˌin-də-ˈrekt How to pronounce indirect (audio)
: not straight or direct
an indirect route
: not straightforward
indirect methods
an indirect answer
: not having a plainly seen connection
an indirect cause
: stating what an original speaker said with changes in wording that make the statement fit grammatically with the rest of the sentence
"that he would call" in "He said that he would call" is in indirect discourse
indirectly adverb
indirectness noun

Medical Definition


in·​di·​rect ˌin-də-ˈrekt, -dī- How to pronounce indirect (audio)
: not direct: as
: not resulting directly from an action or cause (as a disease)
indirect effects of malaria
: involving intermediate or intervening parts or pathways
stimulation of one eye elicits narrowing of the pupil of the other eye by an indirect reaction
indirect attachment of a muscle through tendons
: involving or being immunofluorescence in which antibodies of two kinds are used of which the first combine with a specific protein and the second contain a fluorescent label and combine with the antibodies of the first type
indirectly adverb

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