Origin of direct

1325–75; Middle English direct (adj., adv.), directen (v.) (< Anglo-French) < Latin dīrēctus, dērēctus (the latter probably the orig. form, later reanalyzed as dī- di-2), past participle of dērigere to align, straighten, guide (dē- de- + -rigere, combining form of regere to guide, rule)
Related formsdi·rect·a·ble, adjectivedi·rect·ness, nounpre·di·rect, verb (used with object)self-di·rect·ing, adjectivesem·i·di·rect, adjectivesem·i·di·rect·ness, noun

Synonyms for direct

Synonym study

1. See guide. 4. Direct, order, command mean to issue instructions. Direct suggests also giving explanations or advice; the emphasis is not on the authority of the director, but on steps necessary for the accomplishing of a purpose. Order connotes a personal relationship in which one in a superior position imperatively instructs a subordinate to do something. Command, less personal and, often, less specific in detail, suggests greater formality and, sometimes, a more fixed authority on the part of the superior.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for directness

Contemporary Examples of directness

Historical Examples of directness

  • Did the very simplicity and directness of his nature baffle her?

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • They were not prepared for his swiftness and directness, for his attack without warning.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • In their eyes were the extraordinary boldness and directness of the sea.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • There is a directness of aim in virtue which gives an insight into vice.

  • There was something to account for this directness of leading.

    Lotus Buds

    Amy Carmichael

British Dictionary definitions for directness


verb (mainly tr)

to regulate, conduct, or control the affairs of
(also intr) to give commands or orders with authority to (a person or group)he directed them to go away
to tell or show (someone) the way to a place
to aim, point, or cause to move towards a goal
to address (a letter, parcel, etc)
to address (remarks, words, etc)to direct comments at someone
(also intr) to provide guidance to (actors, cameramen, etc) in the rehearsal of a play or the filming of a motion picture
(also intr)
  1. to conduct (a piece of music or musicians), usually while performing oneself
  2. another word (esp US) for conduct (def. 9)


without delay or evasion; straightforwarda direct approach
without turning aside; uninterrupted; shortest; straighta direct route
without intervening persons or agencies; immediatea direct link
honest; frank; candida direct answer
(usually prenominal) precise; exacta direct quotation
diametricalthe direct opposite
in an unbroken line of descent, as from father to son over succeeding generationsa direct descendant
(of government, decisions, etc) by or from the electorate rather than through representatives
logic maths (of a proof) progressing from the premises to the conclusion, rather than eliminating the possibility of the falsehood of the conclusionCompare indirect proof
astronomy moving from west to east on the celestial sphereCompare retrograde (def. 4a)
  1. of or relating to direct current
  2. (of a secondary induced current) having the same direction as the primary current
  1. (of motion) in the same directionSee motion (def. 9)
  2. (of an interval or chord) in root position; not inverted


directly; straighthe went direct to the office
Derived Formsdirectness, noun

Word Origin for direct

C14: from Latin dīrectus; from dīrigere to guide, from dis- apart + regere to rule
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 directness



late 14c., from Latin directus "straight," past participle of dirigere "set straight" (see direct (v.)).



late 14c., "to write (to someone), to address," from Latin directus "straight," past participle of dirigere "set straight," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + regere "to guide" (see regal). Cf. dress; address.

Meaning "to govern, regulate" is from c.1500; "to order, ordain" is from 1650s. Sense of "to write the destination on the outside of a letter" is from 16c. Of plays, films, etc., from 1913. Related: Directed; directing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper