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 Predtechenskiy frequented the resort, but was not known to traverse off into risky territory, the Sheriff's Office said. Michael Mcdaniel, The Arizona Republic, "Chandler man reported missing from Arizona Snowbowl found dead," 29 Mar. 2021 Some 320 vessels are waiting to traverse the 120-mile channel, according to the Suez Canal Authority, which runs the waterway. Rory Jones, WSJ, "High Tide in Suez Canal Raises Hopes of Freeing Cargo Ship," 28 Mar. 2021 According to GCaptain, rerouting burns more than 800 metric tons of fuel for Suezmax tankers, the term used to describe the largest vessels that have the ability to traverse the Suez Canal. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Energy, retail, and food: Ever Given blockage threatens supply chains," 26 Mar. 2021 Without the Suez, shipments traveling between those parts of the world would have to traverse the entire continent of Africa, adding hefty costs and substantially extending their journey times. Rob Picheta, CNN, "Why the Suez Canal is so important -- and why its blockage could be so damaging," 26 Mar. 2021 That one-lane unpaved road is rough and difficult to traverse even with a high-clearance vehicle. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Here's how you can see 7 Wisconsin waterfalls in one day," 25 Mar. 2021 For anyone who does desire to erase those wrinkles from their forehead, the anti-aging market can be difficult to traverse. Tatjana Freund, Marie Claire, "Getting Rid of Forehead Wrinkles 101: A Dermatologist's Guide," 19 Mar. 2021 This forms a ramp for the car to traverse upward onto the empty and awaiting flatbed area. Lance Eliot, Forbes, "Convincing A Self-Driving Car To Go Where You Want It To Go When It Won’t Go There," 27 Feb. 2021 For years, Maura Keaney has sent fourth-graders on a scavenger hunt into the past, asking students to traverse Virginia with their families in search of historical markers. Washington Post, "A civil rights hero lacked a historical marker. Then a class of Virginia fourth-graders spoke up.," 24 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Beginning at Last Dollar Pass, these four mountain dwellings shelter hikers on a 30-mile traverse between the resort towns of Telluride and Ouray. Andrew Nelson, WSJ, "Your Guide to Living Well in the Great Outdoors," 27 Mar. 2021 The company's sunrise, sunset, and whale-watching trips depart from Wailea Beach and traverse along the island's southern coast. Spend an entire day driving the Road to Hāna. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, "How to Plan the Perfect Honeymoon in Maui," 20 Mar. 2021 Similarly, this area converts into a sleeping nook designed for children featuring a traverse bed that measures 47 by 69 inches. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, "This Plush 24-Foot Camper Brings Luxury Living to Your Cross-Country Road Trip," 17 Mar. 2021 Those who make the traverse can reap the rewards while looking out for black bears, wild hogs, alligators and abundant avian residents in the wilderness area. Patrick Connolly,, "Florida Fresh Air: Black Bear Wilderness Area supplies scenic, strenuous hike," 26 Feb. 2021 About half of this traverse could be completed in Perseverance’s prime mission (one Mars year, or two Earth years). Mike Wehner, BGR, "This is where NASA wants to send its new rover," 24 Feb. 2021 For an even more immersive experience, don your pack for a traverse of the deep gouge known as the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, which spans roughly 33 miles between its namesake meadow and the White Wolf area to the west. Shawnté Salabert, Outside Online, "The Ultimate Yosemite National Park Travel Guide," 22 Feb. 2021 Harrison's traverse began in Spain and ended 3,000 miles away in Antigua. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "England's Jasmine Harrison, 21, becomes youngest woman to row solo across an ocean," 21 Feb. 2021 The scientists want the rover to clamber up and down the hilly terrain of the river delta and eventually drive all the way out of the crater to get a view from the rim, a traverse of 15 miles. Anchorage Daily News, "NASA’s Mars rover, Perseverance, aims for dicey landing to search for ancient life," 16 Feb. 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, "Best ice pick: A versatile winter tool for camping and more," 25 Feb. 2021 The Fairhope parade will include lining up floats parked along Section Street and have vehicles traverse along the parade route. al, "Mobile debate: Who pulls the plug on Mardi Gras?," 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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Time Traveler for traverse

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for traverse

Last Updated

3 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Traverse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for traverse



English Language Learners Definition of traverse

somewhat formal : 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

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