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1590s, "out of the common or direct way," from Latin devius (out of the way, remote, off the main road), from de via, from de (off) (see de-) + via (way, road). Compare deviate. Originally in the Latin literal sense; the figurative sense of "deceitful" is first recorded 1630s. Related to deviously, deviousness. Figurative senses of the Latin word were "retired, sequestered, wandering in the byways, foolish, inconsistent."



devious (comparative more devious, superlative most devious)

  1. cunning or deceiving, not straightforward or honest, not frank
  2. roundabout, circuitous, deviating from the direct or ordinary route
    • 1801, Robert Southey, “(please specify the page)”, in Thalaba the Destroyer, volume (please specify |volume=I or II), London: [] [F]or T[homas] N[orton] Longman and O. Rees, [], by Biggs and Cottle, [], OCLC 277545047:
      The wandering Arab never sets his tent
      Within her walls; the Shepherd eyes afar
      Her evil towers, and devious drives his flock.
    • 1839, Frederick Marryat, The Phantom Ship:
      Keeping close in to the shore, they discovered, after two hours run, a fresh stream which burst in a cascade from the mountains, and swept its devious course through the jungle, until it poured its tribute into the waters of the Strait.
    • 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped
      We went down accordingly into the waste, and began to make our toilsome and devious travel towards the eastern verge.


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