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

Grill broccoli over direct heat until evenly charred, 4-6 minutes per side, moving to indirect heat as needed to prevent stalks from burning. Aleksandra Crapanzano, WSJ, "Cook’s Trick: Go Ahead and Overdo It," 7 Sep. 2018 As an oil field service firm, Halliburton has direct and indirect business involving the Interior Department, which manages mining and drilling rights on federal lands. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke might face a criminal investigation," 5 Nov. 2018 While Obama has been somewhat indirect in his public criticism of the sitting president, Waters has been especially vocal with anti-Trump sentiments. Emily Bloch, Teen Vogue, "Every Democrat Targeted With Potential Explosive Devices Has Beef With Trump," 24 Oct. 2018 All this control of light is indirect, coming via our control of materials that the light interacts with. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Salt-infused graphene creates an infrared cloaking device," 3 Aug. 2018 Its proponents should take into account the indirect effects that this reform would have on electoral politics, individuals’ sense of liberty, and their overall sense that government works for them and not the other way around. Chayenne Polimedio, Vox, "Is voting a civic right or a civic duty?," 6 Nov. 2018 But the fiddle-leaf seems to require bright, indirect light with some direct exposure to milder, early morning sun. Kenneth Setzer, miamiherald, "Houseplant advice for the millennial (or anyone) who doesn’t have a green thumb," 11 July 2018 The roof will include clear sections that will provide indirect light. Stefan Stevenson, star-telegram, "Globe Life Field update: Giant cranes, pedestrian malls and grass or turf? | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 22 May 2018 Try shooting indoors next to a window with soft indirect natural light. Andrea Alonso, Los Angeles Magazine, "Meet the Man Behind One of L.A.’s Best Food Instagrams," 12 Mar. 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

11 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on indirect

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with indirect

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for indirect

Spanish Central: Translation of indirect

Nglish: Translation of indirect for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of indirect for Arabic Speakers

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