departing from the most direct way; circuitous; indirect: a devious course.
without definite course; vagrant: a devious current.
departing from the proper or accepted way; roundabout: a devious procedure.
not straightforward; shifty or crooked: a devious scheme to acquire wealth.

Origin of devious

1590–1600; < Latin dēvius out-of-the way, erratic, equivalent to dē- de- + -vius adj. derivative of via way; see -ous
Related formsde·vi·ous·ly, adverbde·vi·ous·ness, nounnon·de·vi·ous, adjectivenon·de·vi·ous·ly, adverbnon·de·vi·ous·ness, nounun·de·vi·ous, adjectiveun·de·vi·ous·ly, adverbun·de·vi·ous·ness, noun

Synonyms for devious Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for devious

Contemporary Examples of devious

Historical Examples of devious

  • In arriving at this decision her mind traveled a number of devious roads.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • We will go by devious ways, and so, I hope, will reach Sherwood in safety.

  • I have approached by the most devious and undiscovered paths.


    William Godwin

  • He might approach the subject by these devious ways, he told himself.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • Perplexed by his devious ramble, he was more at fault than ever.

    Chronicles of Border Warfare

    Alexander Scott Withers

British Dictionary definitions for devious



not sincere or candid; deceitful; underhand
(of a route or course of action) rambling; indirect; roundabout
going astray from a proper or accepted way; erring
Derived Formsdeviously, adverbdeviousness, noun

Word Origin for devious

C16: from Latin dēvius lying to one side of the 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 devious

1590s, "out of the way," from Latin devius "out of the way, remote, off the main road," from de via (see deviate). Originally in the Latin literal sense; figurative sense of "deceitful" is first recorded 1630s. Related: Deviously; deviousness. Figurative senses of the Latin word were "retired, sequestered, wandering in the byways, foolish, inconsistent."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper