nav·​i·​gate | \ˈna-və-ˌgāt \
navigated; navigating

Definition of navigate 

intransitive verb

1 : to travel by water : sail navigated down to the mouth of the river

2 : to steer a course through a medium specifically : to operate an airplane navigate by instrument

3 : get around, move was well enough to navigate under his own power

transitive verb

1a : to sail over, on, or through able to navigate the deep ocean waters

b : to make one's way over or through : traverse navigate the Internet via hypertext links connecting information-rich computers around the world.— Stephanie Losee

2a : to steer or manage (a boat) in sailing

b : to operate or control the course of navigate an airplane

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Examples of navigate in a Sentence

For thousands of years, sailors navigated by the stars. How about if you drive and I navigate? I'd need a map to navigate the city. Only flat-bottomed boats can safely navigate the canal. He has learned to navigate in rough waters. The downtown area is easily navigated on foot. She has trouble navigating the stairs with her crutches. It took us 10 minutes to navigate through the parking lot to the exit. The captain navigated the ship. He has had experience navigating airplanes through storms.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Residents navigate the building through an open-air corridor that over looks the courtyard and is also used as communal balcony. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Striking apartment building is made up of 140 shipping containers," 12 Nov. 2018 But with a myriad of choices out there, ranging in shades, textures and coverage, how then to navigate the best of the best? Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "The Best Concealers of All Time, According to 10 Celebrity Makeup Artists," 20 Oct. 2018 There's a scene in the pilot with a racist character and O.A. has to navigate that. Liz Cantrell, Town & Country, "Actor Zeeko Zaki Is Ready to Change the Narrative of Arab Men on the Small Screen," 25 Sep. 2018 During the midst of construction, these walls were festooned with live wires, creating a maze high scalers had to navigate. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Hoover Dam Changed America—And It Might Do It Again," 27 July 2018 Besides Crowley, several other Democratic incumbents also were navigating primary challenges in New York. Author: Sean Sullivan, David Weigel, Anchorage Daily News, "Top House Democrat loses in upset; Trump extends his winning streak in GOP primaries," 27 June 2018 The parking lot is one of only countless emotional triggers the family navigates daily. Mac Engel, star-telegram, "They lost their parents in a murder-suicide. Now the Durrett Foundation is stepping up," 26 June 2018 Along the way, the Indians (29-5) — who shared the Duneland Athletic Conference title with Crown Point as part of a challenging regular-season schedule — navigated a perilous postseason path. Michael Osipoff, Post-Tribune, "Lake Central's Jeff Sherman is the 2018 Post-Tribune Softball Coach of the Year," 23 June 2018 As the rescuers waited anxiously, a diver navigating the 11th teammate through the underwater maze lost hold of the guide rope. Hannah Beech, Richard C. Paddock And Muktita Suhartono, New York Times, "‘Still Can’t Believe It Worked’: The Story of the Thailand Cave Rescue," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'navigate.' 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 navigate

1588, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for navigate

Latin navigatus, past participle of navigare, from navis ship + -igare (from agere to drive) — more at agent

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Statistics for navigate

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for navigate

The first known use of navigate was in 1588

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More Definitions for navigate



English Language Learners Definition of navigate

: to find the way to get to a place when you are traveling in a ship, airplane, car, etc.

: to sail on, over, or through an area of water

: to travel on, over, or through (an area or place)


nav·​i·​gate | \ˈna-və-ˌgāt \
navigated; navigating

Kids Definition of navigate

1 : to travel by water Explorers navigated around the world.

2 : to sail or travel over, on, or through The crew navigated the river.

3 : to steer a course in a ship or aircraft

4 : to steer or direct the course of (as a boat)

5 : to find information on the Internet or a Web site

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Comments on navigate

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


by force of circumstances

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