swerved; swerving

intransitive verb

: to turn aside abruptly from a straight line or course : deviate

transitive verb

: to cause to turn aside or deviate
swerve noun
Choose the Right Synonym for swerve

swerve, veer, deviate, depart, digress, diverge mean to turn aside from a straight course.

swerve may suggest a physical, mental, or moral turning away from a given course, often with abruptness.

swerved to avoid hitting the dog

veer implies a major change in direction.

at that point the path veers to the right

deviate implies a turning from a customary or prescribed course.

never deviated from her daily routine

depart suggests a deviation from a traditional or conventional course or type.

occasionally departs from his own guidelines

digress applies to a departing from the subject of one's discourse.

a professor prone to digress

diverge may equal depart but usually suggests a branching of a main path into two or more leading in different directions.

after school their paths diverged

Examples of swerve in a Sentence

He lost control of the car and swerved toward a tree. the car swerved sharply to avoid the squirrel in the road
Recent Examples on the Web All the banging and bumping and swerving and curb jumping may have come at a cost, however. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 17 Feb. 2024 Instead, McKay swerved across several lanes on the highway and pulled over on the left shoulder. Nicole Lopez, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 14 Feb. 2024 Don’t swerve, either, the TiresPlus auto parts chain advises. Jon Healey, Los Angeles Times, 7 Feb. 2024 And through it all, the film’s tone is hard to pin down, swerving between arch comedy and tense tragedy without ever giving the audience an obvious hero to root for. David Sims, The Atlantic, 7 Dec. 2023 The truck weaves through traffic after crossing the railroad tracks and swerves wildly, striking another curb at the intersection with Stayton Street and nearly hitting a car. James Hartley, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 29 Jan. 2024 For unknown reasons, the SUV swerved off the road around 10:25 a.m. and crashed into a freeway overpass wall. Caleb Lunetta, San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Jan. 2024 Later, entering the city the moment the ’77 Summer of Sam blackouts hit, reaching CBGB as all order disintegrates, finding owner Hilly Krystal out front with a candle, reversing course and racing out of the city, swerving around moon-eyed looters, watching as the Bronx becomes a bonfire. Jonathan Rowe, SPIN, 23 Jan. 2024 Jockeying in a hierarchy, no matter how lofty, occasionally swerves toward the physical. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 22 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'swerve.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Old English sweorfan to wipe, file away; akin to Old High German swerban to wipe off, Welsh chwerfu to whirl

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of swerve was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near swerve

Cite this Entry

“Swerve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swerve. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


swerved; swerving
: to turn aside suddenly from a straight line or course
swerve noun

More from Merriam-Webster on swerve

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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