[ path, pahth ]
/ pæθ, pɑθ /
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noun, plural paths [pathz, pahthz, paths, pahths]. /pæðz, pɑðz, pæθs, pɑθs/.
a way beaten, formed, or trodden by the feet of persons or animals.
a narrow walk or way: a path through a garden; a bicycle path.
a route, course, or track along which something moves: the path of a hurricane.
a course of action, conduct, or procedure: the path of righteousness.
Mathematics. a continuous curve that connects two or more points.
Computers. the sequence of steps that a computer follows in carrying out a routine, as in storing and retrieving a file at a specific location.
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Question 1 of 7
True or false? British English and American English are only different when it comes to slang words.

Idioms about path

    cross one's path, to encounter or meet unexpectedly: Tragedy crossed our path again.

Origin of path

First recorded before 900; Middle English; Old English pæth; cognate with German Pfad

synonym study for path

1. Path, lane, trail are passages or routes not as wide as a way or road. A path is a way for passing on foot; a track, beaten by feet, not specially constructed, is often along the side of a road: a path through a field. A lane is a narrow road or track, generally between fields, often enclosed with fences or trees; sometimes it is an alley or narrow road between buildings in towns: a lane leading to a farmhouse; Drury Lane. A trail is a rough way made or worn through woods, or across mountains, prairies, or other untraveled regions: an Indian trail.


mul·ti·path, nounoutpath, noun

Other definitions for path (2 of 4)


variant of patho- before a vowel: pathosis.

Other definitions for path (3 of 4)


a combining form occurring in personal nouns corresponding to abstract nouns ending in -pathy, with the general sense “one practicing such a treatment” (osteopath) or “one having such an ailment” (psychopath).

Other definitions for path (4 of 4)


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of path?​

A path is a way formed by people or animals, a narrow track, or a route that something takes. Path has a few other senses as a noun.

A path is an improvised trail that has been created by people or animals repeatedly following it. A path through the woods, for example, may simply be ground worn down to packed dirt. Paths like these are not planned but often result from many people or animals taking the same way through a place and moving any debris or objects, such as rocks, that may have once been in the way.

  • Real-life examples: Hikers often navigate paths through forests and mountainous areas. It is wise to avoid paths that appear to have been made by dangerous animals, like wolves or bears.
  • Used in a sentence: We followed a dirt path through the woods. 

The word path is also used to refer to narrow walkways or tracks created intentionally. These kinds of paths are usually created for a specific purpose, such as a garden path or a bicycle path.

  • Used in a sentence: She walked up the cobblestone path to her uncle’s house. 

Path can also mean a route or course that something takes. This sense is used both literally to mean actual walking or moving and figuratively to mean a way of life or course of action.

  • Real-life examples: Meteorologists track the paths of hurricanes, tornados, and thunderstorms. A runaway train is likely to destroy everything in its path. Students pursue many different career paths after finishing their studies.
  • Used in a sentence: I made sure to be far away from the path of the angry bull. 

Where does path come from?

The first records of the word path come from before the 900s. It ultimately comes from the Old English pæth and is related to the German Pfad.

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What are some other forms related to path?

What are some synonyms for path?

What are some words that share a root or word element with path

What are some words that often get used in discussing path?

How is path used in real life?

Path is a common word that means literal or figurative routes that things take.

Try using path!

True or False?

A city that is in the path of a tornado is far away from where the tornado will go.

How to use path in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for path (1 of 3)

/ (pɑːθ) /

noun plural paths (pɑːðz)
a road or way, esp a narrow trodden track
a surfaced walk, as through a garden
the course or direction in which something movesthe path of a whirlwind
a course of conductthe path of virtue
computing the directions for reaching a particular file or directory, as traced hierarchically through each of the parent directories usually from the root; the file or directoryand all parent directories are separated from one another in the path by slashes

Derived forms of path

pathless, adjective

Word Origin for path

Old English pæth; related to Old High German, German Pfad

British Dictionary definitions for path (2 of 3)


n combining form
denoting a person suffering from a specified disease or disorderneuropath
denoting a practitioner of a particular method of treatmentosteopath

Word Origin for -path

back formation from -pathy

British Dictionary definitions for path (3 of 3)

/ (pæθ) /

abbreviation for
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with path


see beat a path to someone's door; cross someone's path; lead down the garden path; least resistance, path of; on the warpath.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.