in·di·rect | \ˌin-də-ˈrekt, -(ˌ)dī-\

Definition of indirect 

: not direct: such as

a(1) : deviating from a direct line or course : roundabout

(2) : not going straight to the point an indirect accusation

(3) : being or involving proof of a proposition or theorem by demonstration that its negation leads to an absurdity or contradiction

b : not straightforward and open : deceitful

c : not directly aimed at or achieved indirect consequences

d : 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

e : not effected by the action of the people or the electorate indirect government representation

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Other Words from indirect

indirectly \ˌin-də-ˈrekt-lē, -(ˌ)dī- \ adverb
indirectness \ˌin-də-ˈrekt-nəs, -(ˌ)dī- \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for indirect


circuitous, circular, roundabout


direct, straight, straightforward

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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”
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Recent Examples on the Web

In a very indirect way, James could potentially buy a very small stake in the Cavs. Michael Mccann And Jon Wertheim,, "Can Dan Gilbert Offer His Team to Keep LeBron James?," 8 Mar. 2018 When an official calls a team for being offside, the other team gets possession of the ball for an indirect free kick, taken from the spot where the offense occurred., "A Guide to the World Cup When You Know Nothing About Soccer," 26 June 2018 When construction on the sidewalk and crosswalk begins, he will be forced to take an indirect route that Barnes estimated is an extra half-block’s distance. Michael Katz, idahostatesman, "Construction in Nampa has some residents feeling like ‘hostages’; did they have fair warning? | Idaho Statesman," 9 Apr. 2018 These results don’t include indirect effects, such as from corporate tax cuts or increased federal borrowing. Laura Saunders, WSJ, "Last-Minute Tips as Tax Day Approaches," 30 Mar. 2018 The direct chemical effect of our CO2 emissions on our planet’s oceans gets far less attention than the indirect effects caused by global warming. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Some species could survive ocean acidification by leaning on neighbors," 3 Mar. 2018 The resolution would also order all countries to immediately prevent the direct or indirect supply or sale of weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and other equipment and spare parts to South Sudan until May 31, 2019. Fox News, "UN to vote on arms embargo and new sanctions on South Sudan," 13 July 2018 Most of the rest was inferred using direct or indirect indicators, such as by taking the number of housing starts as a proxy for dollars invested in new home construction. Jason Furman, WSJ, "The Economy Is Growing Faster Than the Government Says," 9 July 2018 Massive indirect deaths due to conflict violence would also have been averted. Håvard Hegre, Washington Post, "U.N. peacekeeping really can be effective. Here’s how we tabulated this.," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'indirect.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of indirect

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for indirect

Middle English, from Medieval Latin indirectus, from Latin in- + directus direct — more at dress

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Statistics for indirect

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for indirect

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

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More Definitions for indirect


in·di·rect | \ˌin-də-ˈrekt, -dī-\

Kids Definition of indirect

1 : not straight or direct an indirect route

2 : not straightforward an indirect answer

3 : not having a plainly seen connection an indirect cause

Other Words from indirect

indirectly adverb
indirectness noun


in·di·rect | \ˌin-də-ˈrekt, -dī- \

Medical Definition of indirect 

1 : not direct: as

a : not resulting directly from an action or cause (as a disease) indirect effects of malaria

b : 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

2 : 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

Other Words from indirect

indirectly adverb

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Comments on indirect

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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