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[in-duh-rekt, -dahy-]
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  1. not in a direct course or path; deviating from a straight line; roundabout: an indirect course in sailing.
  2. coming or resulting otherwise than directly or immediately, as effects or consequences: an indirect advantage.
  3. not direct in action or procedure: His methods are indirect but not dishonest.
  4. not straightforward; devious; deceitful: He is known as a shady, indirect fellow.
  5. not direct in bearing, application, force, etc.: indirect evidence.
  6. of, relating to, or characteristic of indirect discourse: an indirect quote.
  7. not descending in a direct line of succession, as a title or inheritance.
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Origin of indirect

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Medieval Latin word indīrēctus. See in-3, direct
Related formsin·di·rect·ly, adverbin·di·rect·ness, nounsem·i-in·di·rect, adjectivesem·i-in·di·rect·ly, adverbsem·i-in·di·rect·ness, noun


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

Examples from the Web for indirect

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Then here is indirect heredity, that of the collateral branches.

    Doctor Pascal

    Emile Zola

  • Do not grudge labour where the return may be remote and indirect.

  • The lights which he throws on his subject are indirect, but they are not the less real for that.

  • Moreover the science has indirect effects, which are not small.

  • It would be difficult, however, to overestimate its indirect consequences.

British Dictionary definitions for indirect


  1. deviating from a direct course or line; roundabout; circuitous
  2. not coming as a direct effect or consequence; secondaryindirect benefits
  3. not straightforward, open, or fair; devious or evasivean indirect insult
  4. (of a title or an inheritance) not inherited in an unbroken line of succession from father to son
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Derived Formsindirectly, adverbindirectness, noun
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 indirect


late 14c., from Middle French indirect (14c.) or directly from Late Latin indirectus, from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + directus (see direct). Related: Indirectness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper