adjective in·di·rect \ ˌin-də-ˈrekt , -(ˌ)dī- \
|Updated on: 21 Aug 2018

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


play \ˌin-də-ˈrekt-lē, -(ˌ)dī-\ adverb


play \ˌin-də-ˈrekt-nəs, -(ˌ)dī-\ noun

Examples of indirect in a Sentence

  1. We took an indirect route.

  2. These plants grow best in bright indirect light.

  3. He gave only vague, indirect answers to our questions.

  4. They used indirect methods of investigation.

  5. There were many indirect references to his earlier books.

  6. Looking at her watch was her indirect way of telling him it was time to leave.

  7. Poor nutrition may have been an indirect cause of the disease.

  8. The cigarette stubs were indirect evidence that someone had been smoking in the room.

  9. “He said that he would call later,” is an example of indirect speech since his actual words were “I'll call later.”

  10. an indirect question such as “She asked whether the doctor had arrived”

Recent Examples of indirect from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of indirect

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

INDIRECT Defined for Kids


adjective in·di·rect \ ˌin-də-ˈrekt , -dī- \

Definition of indirect for Students

1 : not straight or direct
  • an indirect route
2 : not straightforward
  • an indirect answer
3 : not having a plainly seen connection
  • an indirect cause





Medical Dictionary


adjective 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



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