[verb dee-vee-eyt; adjective, noun dee-vee-it]
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verb (used without object), de·vi·at·ed, de·vi·at·ing.
  1. to turn aside, as from a route, way, course, etc.
  2. to depart or swerve, as from a procedure, course of action, or acceptable norm.
  3. to digress, as from a line of thought or reasoning.
verb (used with object), de·vi·at·ed, de·vi·at·ing.
  1. to cause to swerve; turn aside.
  1. characterized by deviation or departure from an accepted norm or standard, as of behavior.
  1. a person or thing that departs from the accepted norm or standard.
  2. a person whose sexual behavior departs from the norm in a way that is considered socially or morally unacceptable.
  3. Statistics. a variable equal to the difference between a variate and some fixed value, often the mean.

Origin of deviate

1625–35; < Late Latin dēviātus turned from the straight road, past participle of dēviāre. See deviant, -ate1
Related formsde·vi·a·ble, adjectivede·vi·a·bil·i·ty [dee-vee-uh-bil-i-tee] /ˌdi vi əˈbɪl ɪ ti/, nounde·vi·a·tor, nounnon·de·vi·at·ing, adjectiveun·de·vi·a·ble, adjectiveun·de·vi·at·ed, adjectiveun·de·vi·at·ing, adjectiveun·de·vi·at·ing·ly, adverb
Can be confuseddeviant deviate

Synonyms for deviate

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Synonym study

1. Deviate, digress, diverge, swerve imply turning or going aside from a path. To deviate is to turn or wander, often by slight degrees, from what is considered the most direct or desirable approach to a given physical, intellectual, or moral end: Fear caused him to deviate from the truth. To digress is primarily to wander from the main theme or topic in writing or speaking: Some authors digress to relate entertaining episodes. Two paths diverge when they proceed from a common point in such directions that the distance between them increases: The sides of an angle diverge from a common point. Their interests gradually diverged. To swerve is to make a sudden or sharp turn from a line or course: The car swerved to avoid striking a pedestrian. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for deviate

Contemporary Examples of deviate

Historical Examples of deviate

  • These they fixed and consecrated in their temples; and no artist or musician is allowed to deviate from them.



  • He would not appear to deviate from this custom, but sat down to his books as usual.

    Luttrell Of Arran

    Charles James Lever

  • Precisely: so that in order to obtain a knowledge of the one, we must deviate to the other.

  • I swear, though, that no living being will make me deviate from my line of conduct.

  • In proportion as we deviate from the strictly true, then, we sin.

    The Right Knock

    Helen Van-Anderson

British Dictionary definitions for deviate


verb (ˈdiːvɪˌeɪt)
  1. (usually intr) to differ or diverge or cause to differ or diverge, as in belief or thought
  2. (usually intr) to turn aside or cause to turn aside; diverge or cause to diverge
  3. (intr) psychol to depart from an accepted standard or convention
noun, adjective (ˈdiːvɪɪt)
  1. another word for deviant
Derived Formsdeviator, noundeviatory, adjective

Word Origin for deviate

C17: from Late Latin dēviāre to turn aside from the direct road, from de- + via road
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 deviate

1630s, from Late Latin deviatus, past participle of deviare "to turn out of the way" (see deviant). Related: Deviated; deviating. The noun meaning "sexual pervert" is attested from 1912.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper