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

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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 Gateway marketplaces are accustomed to cooperating with large organizations and can relatively easily traverse acceptance procedures from the departments involved. Przemek Berendt, Forbes, 31 Aug. 2021 There is no doubt that the universe is still far too vast for humans to traverse. Robert Gast, Scientific American, 13 July 2021 While Ingenuity's previous two flights have kept the helicopter in lock step with NASA's Perseverance Mars rover, this latest flight took the helicopter over terrain too difficult for Percy to traverse. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, 7 July 2021 Not transmitting personal data cuts the risk of exposure and saves time spent waiting for data to traverse the internet. Tom Simonite, Wired, 16 June 2021 Beyond the Competition Area, General Sam’s trails traverse pine forests, creek drainages, swamps, rock walls, and epic ruts. Outside Online, 16 June 2021 From a novel about difficult beginnings to a memoir that traces exercise fads, and from Napoleon’s art lust to trees that communicate, May books traverse a wide territory. Monitor Reviewers, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 May 2021 Maybe the aliens traverse the universe in wormholes that are invisible to us. Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2021 Several different whale species traverse the waters off Maryland’s shores, including humpbacks and sei whales, but also fin whales and endangered North Atlantic right whales, of which there are fewer than 400 left in the wild. Christine Condon,, 4 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun So, which Class 4A section looks like the most treacherous to traverse? Jim Paulsen, Star Tribune, 31 May 2021 His interest in the origins of that project comes at some cost to the reader, since his many digressions on the history and theology of Eastern and Aboriginal religions are the waist-deep soft snow of this book: heavy, soggy, slow to traverse. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 5 July 2021 Having a Russian pipeline traverse Ukraine also helps protect Ukraine from Russian aggression, Portman argues, because Russia doesn’t want to attack its own pipeline. Sabrina Eaton, cleveland, 7 June 2021 The trail, which can take four to five days to traverse, stretches just over 27 miles. Jason Duaine Hahn,, 22 June 2021 Polleros helped him and his 10-year-old sister traverse Mexico. Seth Harp, Rolling Stone, 14 June 2021 Bryan Evarts wondered if any roads that drivers traverse today evolved from trails created by Native Americans, who populated the land long before white settlers arrived enmass in the mid-1800s. Tim Harlow, Star Tribune, 11 June 2021 Why fell more trees or traverse rivers anew when the work had already been done? Tom Mullaney, Quartz, 29 May 2021 Bain added that, by providing a place for families and their children to walk or ride bikes, the boulevard would be made safer, as residents would not use the street to traverse, as is often now the case. cleveland, 27 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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

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.

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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

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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

6 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Traverse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for traverse



English Language Learners Definition of traverse

: to move across (an area)


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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