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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

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 The new study reveals that the variation in the intensity of treatment stems more from the availability of services and physicians’ discomfort navigating end-of-life choices than from patients’ wishes. Orly Nadell Farber, STAT, "Physicians’ beliefs may override cancer patients’ wishes for end-of-life care, study finds," 9 July 2018 That’s an interesting story right there: how Laura (Vera Farmiga) navigates a life involving her con man father, Jack (Christopher Plummer); her philandering ex, Leonard (Bobby Cannavale), and her teenage son, Henry (Lewis MacDougall). Katie Walsh, Detroit Free Press, "Review: Road movie ‘Boundaries’ travels well-worn path," 6 July 2018 First is the robot's ability to navigate while effectively blind. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "MIT's Cheetah 3 Has a Precision Pounce," 5 July 2018 Videos shared on social media showed cars driving the flooding and people navigating through them knee-high waters. Jennifer Calfas, Time, "Flash Floods Rain Out Fourth of July Festivities in Houston," 4 July 2018 While turning down acting roles that don’t represent strong female characters is a no-brainer, navigating other parts of being a public figure, and doing so with integrity, can be a bit murkier. Hannah Pasternak, SELF, "Chloë Grace Moretz Shares Her Daily Beauty Routine," 2 July 2018 Yancy is just one of many parents who still don’t know where their children are, and families like hers will now have to navigate a messy, potentially expensive bureaucratic process to get Darlin back. Sarah Kinosian, Teen Vogue, "Reunification Proves Complicated for Families Separated at the U.S.-Mexico Border," 14 July 2018 The narrow cave passages that the divers had to navigate, combined with the fact that most of the boys could not swim and were likely malnourished and at risk of panicking, made the operation trickier, Dalcher added. Billy Kobin, Indianapolis Star, "Hoosier cave diving experts: 'Never heard of anything' like Thailand 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about navigate

Statistics for navigate

Last Updated

1 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for navigate

The first known use of navigate was in 1588

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


playful or foolish behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!