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. Displaced native Middle English mithe, which was cognate with Dutch mijden and with German meiden, vermeiden.


  • IPA(key): /əˈvɔɪd/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: a‧void
  • Rhymes: -ɔɪd


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

  1. (transitive) to try not to meet or communicate with (a person); to shun
  2. (transitive) to make sth miss s.o.; to give way
    I avoided the slap easily. I avoided meeting my ex.
  3. to keep away from; to keep clear of; to stay away from
    I try to avoid the company of gamblers.
    • 1637, John Milton, Comus, London: Humphrey Robinson, p. 13,[1]
      What need a man forestall his date of griefe
      And run to meet what he would most avoid?
    • 1848, Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession of James the Second, Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, Volume 3, Chapter 13, p. 309,[2]
      He still hoped that he might be able to win some chiefs who remained neutral; and 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.
  4. To try not to do something or to have something happen
  5. (transitive, obsolete) To make empty; to clear.
  6. (transitive, now law) To make void, to annul; to refute (especially a contract).
    • 1395, Wycliffe Bible, Galatians 3:17,[3]
      But Y seie, this testament is confermed of God; the lawe that was maad after foure hundrid and thritti yeer, makith not the testament veyn to auoide awei the biheest.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, A View of the State of Ireland, Dublin: John Morrisson, 1809, reprint of the 1633 edition, p. 233,[4]
      [] how can those graunts of the Kings be avoyded, without wronging of those lords, which had those lands and lordships given them?
  7. (transitive, law) To defeat or evade; to invalidate.
    • 1769, William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Dublin: John Exshaw et al., 4th edition, 1771, Volume 3, Chapter 20, p. 310,[5]
      [] in an action for trespassing upon land whereof the plaintiff is seised, if the defendant shews a title to the land by descent, and that therefore he had a right to enter, and gives colour to the plaintiff, the plaintiff may either traverse and totally deny the fact of the descent; or he may confess and avoid it, by replying, that true it is that such descent happened, but that since the descent the defendant himself demised the lands to the plaintiff for term of life.
  8. (transitive, obsolete) To emit or throw out; to void.
    • 1577, Richard Eden (translator), The History of Trauayle in the West and East Indies [De Orbo Novo, Decades 1-3] by Peter Martyr d’Anghiera, London, “Of the ordinary nauigation from Spayne to the west Indies,” p. 224b,[6]
      [] the citie of Memi, where is a great Caue or Denne, in the whiche is a spryng or fountayne that contynually auoydeth a great quantitie of Bitumen []
    • 1646, Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, London: E. Dod, Book 3, Chapter 13, p. 136,[7]
      [] a Toad pisseth not, nor doe they containe those urinary parts which are found in other animals, to avoid that serous excretion []
  9. (transitive, obsolete) To leave, evacuate; to leave as empty, to withdraw or come away from.
  10. (transitive, obsolete) To get rid of.
    • 1395, Wycliffe Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:11,[11]
      Whanne Y was a litil child, Y spak as a litil child, Y vndurstood as a litil child, Y thouyte as a litil child; but whanne Y was maad a man, Y auoidide tho thingis that weren of a litil child.
    • 1587, Raphael Holinshed et al., The First and Second Volumes of Chronicles, “The oration of king Richard the third to the chiefteins of his armie,” p. 756,[12]
      [] expell out of your thoughts all douts, auoid out of your minds all feare; and like valiant champions aduance foorth your standards []
    • c. 1599, William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act I, Scene 1,[13]
      [] the spirit of my father, which I think is within me, begins to mutiny against this servitude. I will no longer endure it, though yet I know no wise remedy how to avoid it.
  11. (intransitive, obsolete) To retire; to withdraw, depart, go away.
    • c. 1526, Tyndale Bible, Matthew 4:8-10,[14]
      The devyll [] sayde to hym: all these will I geue ye, if thou wilt faull doune and worship me. Then sayde Iesus unto hym. Avoyd Satan.
    • c. 1607, William Shakespeare, Coriolanus, Act IV, Scene 5,[15]
      Pray you, poor gentleman, take up some other station; here’s no place for you; pray you, avoid:
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, 1 Samuel 18:11,[16]
      And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.
  12. (intransitive, obsolete) To become void or vacant.

Usage notesEdit


Derived termsEdit


Further readingEdit

  • avoid at OneLook Dictionary Search