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From Middle English avoiden, from Anglo-Norman avoider, Old French esvuidier (to empty out), from es- + vuidier, from Vulgar Latin *vocitāre < *vocitus < *vocivus, ultimately related to Latin vacuus.



avoid (third-person singular simple present avoids, present participle avoiding, simple past and past participle avoided)

  1. (transitive) To keep away from; to keep clear of; to endeavor not to meet; to shun; to abstain from.
    I try to avoid the company of gamblers.
    • 1526, Bible, tr. William Tyndale, Matthew 4:
      The devyll [] sayde unto hym: all these will I geve the, iff thou wilt faull doune and worship me. Then sayde Jesus unto hym. Avoyde Satan.
    • Milton
      What need a man forestall his date of grief, / And run to meet what he would most avoid?
    • Macaulay
      He carefully avoided every act which could goad them into open hostility.
    • 2012 June 19, Phil McNulty, “England 1-0 Ukraine”, in BBC Sport:
      England could have met world and European champions Spain but that eventuality was avoided by Sweden's 2-0 win against France, and Rooney's first goal in a major tournament since scoring twice in the 4-2 victory over Croatia in Lisbon at Euro 2004.
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To make empty; to clear.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Wyclif to this entry?)
  3. (transitive, now law) To make void, to annul; to refute (especially a contract).
    • Spenser
      How can these grants of the king's be avoided?
  4. (transitive, law) To defeat or evade; to invalidate. Thus, in a replication, the plaintiff may deny the defendant's plea, or confess it, and avoid it by stating new matter.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Blackstone to this entry?)
  5. (transitive, obsolete) To emit or throw out; to void
    to avoid excretions
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Sir Thomas Browne to this entry?)
  6. (transitive, obsolete) To leave, evacuate; to leave as empty, to withdraw or come away from.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter xvij, in Le Morte Darthur, book X:
      Anone they encountred to gyders / and he with the reed shelde smote hym soo hard that he bare hym ouer to the erthe / There with anone came another Knyght of the castel / and he was smyten so sore that he auoyded his fadel
    • Francis Bacon
      Six of us only stayed, and the rest avoided the room.
  7. (transitive, obsolete) To get rid of.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  8. (intransitive, obsolete) To retire; to withdraw, depart, go away.
  9. (intransitive, obsolete) To become void or vacant.

Usage notes[edit]


  • (to keep away from): For semantic relationships of this sense, see avoid in the Wikisaurus.

Derived terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • avoid at OneLook Dictionary Search