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verb (used with object)
  1. to keep away from; keep clear of; shun: to avoid a person; to avoid taxes; to avoid danger.
  2. to prevent from happening: to avoid falling.
  3. Law. to make void or of no effect; invalidate.
  4. Obsolete. to empty; eject or expel.

Origin of avoid

1250–30; Middle English avoiden < Anglo-French avoider, equivalent to a- a-4 + voider to void
Related formsa·void·a·ble, adjectivea·void·a·bly, adverba·void·er, nounnon·a·void·a·ble, adjectivenon·a·void·a·ble·ness, nounnon·a·void·a·bly, adverbun·a·void·ing, adjective
Can be confusedavoid evadeavoid ovoid

Synonym study

1. Avoid, escape mean to come through a potentially harmful or unpleasant experience, without suffering serious consequences. To avoid is to succeed in keeping away from something dangerous or undesirable: to avoid meeting an enemy. Escape suggests encountering peril but coming through it safely: to escape drowning.

Synonyms for avoid

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Antonyms for avoid

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for avoided


verb (tr)
  1. to keep out of the way of
  2. to refrain from doing
  3. to prevent from happeningto avoid damage to machinery
  4. law to make (a plea, contract, etc) void; invalidate; quash
  5. obsolete to expel
  6. obsolete to depart from
Derived Formsavoidable, adjectiveavoidably, adverbavoider, noun

Word Origin for avoid

C14: from Anglo-French avoider, from Old French esvuidier, from vuidier to empty, void
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for avoided



c.1300, from Anglo-French avoider "to clear out, withdraw (oneself)," partially anglicized from Old French esvuidier "to empty out," from es- "out" (see ex-) + vuidier "to be empty," from voide "empty, vast, wide, hollow, waste" (see void (adj.)). Originally a law term; modern sense of "have nothing to do with" also was in Middle English and corresponds to Old French eviter with which it was perhaps confused. Meaning "escape, evade" first attested 1520s. Related: Avoided; avoiding.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper