[ verb dee-vee-eyt; adjective, noun dee-vee-it ]
See synonyms for: deviatedeviateddeviating on

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.

  1. 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.

  1. Statistics. a variable equal to the difference between a variate and some fixed value, often the mean.

Origin of deviate

First recorded in 1625–35; from Late Latin dēviātus “turned from the road,” past participle of dēviāre “to stray, turn from the road,” from Latin dē- de- + vi(a) “road, way” + āre, infinitive verb suffix

synonym study For deviate

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.

Other words for deviate

Other words from deviate

  • de·vi·a·ble, adjective
  • de·vi·a·bil·i·ty [dee-vee-uh-bil-i-tee], /ˌdi vi əˈbɪl ɪ ti/, noun
  • de·vi·a·tor, noun
  • non·de·vi·at·ing, adjective
  • un·de·vi·a·ble, adjective
  • un·de·vi·at·ed, adjective
  • un·de·vi·at·ing, adjective
  • un·de·vi·at·ing·ly, adverb

Words that may be confused with deviate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use deviate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for deviate


  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

  1. (intr) psychol to depart from an accepted standard or convention

noun, adjective(ˈdiːvɪɪt)
  1. another word for deviant

Origin of deviate

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

Derived forms of deviate

  • deviator, noun
  • deviatory, adjective

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