tra·​verse | \ trə-ˈvərs How to pronounce traverse (audio) also tra-ˈvərs or ˈtra-(ˌ)vərs How to pronounce traverse (audio) \
traversed; traversing

Definition of traverse

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to go or travel across or over
b : to move or pass along or through light rays traversing a crystal
2 : to make a study of : examine
3 : to lie or extend across : cross the bridge traverses a brook
4a : to move to and fro over or along
b : to ascend, descend, or cross (a slope or gap) at an angle
c : to move (a gun) to right or left on a pivot
5a : to go against or act in opposition to : oppose, thwart
b : to deny (something, such as an allegation of fact or an indictment) formally at law
6 : to make or carry out a survey of by using traverses

intransitive verb

1 : to move back and forth or from side to side
2 : to move or turn laterally : swivel
3a : to climb at an angle or in a zigzag course
b : to ski across rather than straight down a hill
4 : to make a survey by using traverses


tra·​verse | \ ˈtra-vərs How to pronounce traverse (audio) also -ˌvərs, especially for senses 6 and 8 also trə-ˈvərs How to pronounce traverse (audio) or tra-ˈvərs \

Definition of traverse (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : something that crosses or lies across
3 : a formal denial of a matter of fact alleged by the opposing party in a legal pleading
4a : a compartment or recess formed by a partition, curtain, or screen
b : a gallery or loft providing access from one side to another in a large building
5 : a route or way across or over: such as
a : a zigzag course of a sailing ship with contrary winds
b : a curving or zigzag way up a steep grade
c : the course followed in traversing
6 : the act or an instance of traversing : crossing
7 : a protective projecting wall or bank of earth in a trench
8a : a lateral movement (as of the saddle of a lathe carriage) also : a device for imparting such movement
b : the lateral movement of a gun about a pivot or on a carriage to change direction of fire
9 : a line surveyed across a plot of ground


tra·​verse | \ ˈtra-(ˌ)vərs How to pronounce traverse (audio) , trə-ˈvərs How to pronounce traverse (audio) , tra-ˈvərs \

Definition of traverse (Entry 3 of 3)

: lying across : transverse

Other Words from traverse


traversable \ trə-​ˈvər-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce traverse (audio) also  tra-​ˈvər-​ or  ˈtra-​(ˌ)vər-​ \ adjective
traverser noun

Examples of traverse in a Sentence

Verb The candidates traversed the state throughout the campaign. The river traverses the county.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The ski club is grooming Archangel Road, Strabel said, but skiers have to traverse a more challenging area in order to make it to the path. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Apr. 2022 Schoenegge had to traverse through the muddy, slippery, spongy Bourbon Country Cross Country Course but felt like her preparation played a key role in her success. J.l. Kirven, The Courier-Journal, 31 Oct. 2021 Instead, the grain was loaded on trucks that then had to traverse two-lane roads to the deeper Paraguay River, where barges were loading at 50% capacity. Juan Forero, WSJ, 26 Oct. 2021 An elevator was installed in her home to help her traverse the floors of the house. NBC News, 1 May 2022 Andersen’s background in urban planning for Ventura County and her experience working with cities to develop cannabis programs and policy helped the two women traverse the arduous application process. Lee Anna A. Jackson, Essence, 20 Apr. 2022 Visitors than traverse the midwater gallery where the last rays of sunlight hit, to the bottom of the seafloor, which includes forays into seamounts (underwater mountains) and a whale fall (biodiverse habitats that form around whale carcasses). Priya Shukla, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 Once complete, thousands of people will join daily processions that weave through the city streets, typically beginning inside one of the local churches as part of velaciones, or holy vigils, and then traverse through different neighborhoods. Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 Apr. 2022 This marshy and overgrown area became known as the Slashes, since the only way to traverse it was by slashing through the brush. Washington Post, 12 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The 24,986-acre wilderness area draws hikers and cross-country skiers with its four-mile Norske Trail, while thru-hikers on Vermont’s Long Trail traverse the Breadloaf Wilderness area for nearly 60 miles. Stephanie Vermillion, Outside Online, 26 July 2021 Two trails that total about 1 mile traverse hardwood forest that represents what the area looked like before European settlement. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 28 Apr. 2022 Both men completed the traverse alone, off trail and unsupported. Los Angeles Times, 10 Mar. 2022 The Peak Walk will also have a glass floor, so those making the traverse can peer into the 6,500-foot chasm that separates the two summits. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, 5 Sep. 2014 To make matters worse, there is an extreme scarcity of mental health professionals who are equipped with the tools to aid a Black woman traverse through this kind of situation. Rayna Reid, Essence, 7 Mar. 2022 Hollywood veterans Roger Rabbit, MC Skat Kat, Three Little Pigs, Donald Duck, and Monterey Jack will pop up as the detective duo traverse through modern-day Los Angeles to crack the case. Jessica Wang,, 15 Feb. 2022 The places the protagonists occupy and traverse silently show their opposing positions within the social strata of this coastal capital city where Black Panamanians are disproportionally part of the impoverished sector of the population. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, 27 Jan. 2022 Grants pay for everything from food, shelter, and transportation to legal services that help the migrants traverse Mexico. William La Jeunesse, Fox News, 5 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Similarly, some projects are simply too big or traverse too many internal silos to be handled by a single AI tool. David Drai, Forbes, 3 May 2022 How should marketers traverse this quickly evolving space? Matthew Lieberman, Forbes, 18 Mar. 2022 Finland’s Finnair has been forced to reroute many of its flights from the region that its aircraft typically traverse. Emma Brown, WSJ, 3 Mar. 2022 The route would have taken them through quiet countryside a few centuries ago, but today sees them traverse the busy city. CNN, 24 Oct. 2021 Common backpacking circumstances that warrant a dedicated ice pick include the need to clear and traverse snowy trails, as well as preparation of backcountry campsites and removal of ice from hard surfaces including wood, rock, and asphalt. Popular Science, 25 Feb. 2021 The Fairhope parade will include lining up floats parked along Section Street and have vehicles traverse along the parade route. al, 27 Nov. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'traverse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of traverse


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 5a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for traverse


Middle English, from Anglo-French traverser, from Late Latin transversare, from Latin transversus


Middle English travers, from Anglo-French travers (as in a travers, de travers across), from Latin transversum (as in in transversum set crosswise), neuter of transversus lying across; senses 5–9 in part from traverse entry 1 — more at transverse entry 1

Learn More About traverse

Time Traveler for traverse

Time Traveler

The first known use of traverse was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near traverse



traverse board

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Statistics for traverse

Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Traverse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for traverse


tra·​verse | \ trə-ˈvərs How to pronounce traverse (audio) \
traversed; traversing

Kids Definition of traverse

: to pass through, across, or over


tra·​verse | \ ˈtra-ˌvərs, trə-ˈvərs How to pronounce traverse (audio) \

Legal Definition of traverse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a denial of a matter of fact alleged in the opposing party's pleadings also : a pleading in which such a denial is made


transitive verb
tra·​verse | \ trə-ˈvərs, ˈtra-ˌvərs How to pronounce traverse (audio) \

Legal Definition of traverse (Entry 2 of 2)

: to deny (as an allegation of fact or an indictment) in a legal proceeding

History and Etymology for traverse

Transitive verb

Anglo-French traverser, literally, to lay across, bar, impede, from Old French, from Late Latin transversare to cross, from Latin transversus lying across

More from Merriam-Webster on traverse

Nglish: Translation of traverse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of traverse for Arabic Speakers


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