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verb (used with object), nav·i·gat·ed, nav·i·gat·ing.
  1. to move on, over, or through (water, air, or land) in a ship or aircraft: to navigate a river.
  2. to direct or manage (a ship, aircraft, or guided missile) on its course.
  3. to ascertain or plot and control the course or position of (a ship, aircraft, etc.).
  4. to pass over (the sea or other body of water), as a ship does.
  5. to walk or find one's way on, in, or across: It was difficult to navigate the stairs in the dark.
  6. to move or progress through in a logical sequence: Headings and subheadings make it easier to navigate a long article.
  7. Computers. to move from one part to another of (a website, document, etc.), especially by using the links: Their site is uncluttered and easy to navigate.
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verb (used without object), nav·i·gat·ed, nav·i·gat·ing.
  1. to direct or manage a ship, aircraft, or guided missile on its course.
  2. to pass over the water, as a ship does.
  3. to walk or find one's way.
  4. to travel by ship or boat; sail.
  5. to move or progress through something in a logical sequence: We’re navigating through a maze of environmental legislation.
  6. Computers. to move from one part to another of a website, document, etc.
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Origin of navigate

1580–90; < Latin nāvigātus, past participle of nāvigāre to sail, derivative of nāvis ship; for formation, see fumigate
Related formsmis·nav·i·gate, verb, mis·nav·i·gat·ed, mis·nav·i·gat·ing.re·nav·i·gate, verb (used with object), re·nav·i·gat·ed, re·nav·i·gat·ing.un·nav·i·gat·ed, adjectivewell-nav·i·gat·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for navigating


  1. to plan, direct, or plot the path or position of (a ship, an aircraft, etc)
  2. (tr) to travel over, through, or on (water, air, or land) in a boat, aircraft, etc
  3. informal to direct (oneself, one's way, etc) carefully or safelyhe navigated his way to the bar
  4. (intr) (of a passenger in a motor vehicle) to give directions to the driver; point out the route
  5. (intr) rare to voyage in a ship; sail
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Word Origin

C16: from Latin nāvigāre to sail, from nāvis ship + agere to drive
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 navigating



1580s, a back-formation from navigation, or else from Latin navigatus, past participle of navigare. Extended to balloons (1784) and later to aircraft (1901). Related: Navigated; navigating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper