From Latin digressum, past participle of digredi.


  • Hyphenation: di‧gress
  • IPA(key): /daɪˈɡɹɛs/, /dɪˈɡɹɛs/
  • (file)
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  • Rhymes: -ɛs


digress (third-person singular simple present digresses, present participle digressing, simple past and past participle digressed)

  1. (intransitive) To step or turn aside; to deviate; to swerve; especially, to turn aside from the main subject of attention, or course of argument, in writing or speaking.
    • 1601, Philemon Holland, The Historie of the World, commonly called the Naturall Historie (originally by Pliny the Elder)
      Moreover she beginneth to digress in latitude.
    • 1689 (indicated as 1690), [John Locke], chapter 3, in An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. [], London: [] Thomas Basset, [], OCLC 153628242:
      In the pursuit of an argument there is hardly room to digress into a particular definition as often as a man varies the signification of any term.
    • 1959, Tom Lehrer (music), “In Old Mexico”:
      [] For I hadn't had so much fun since the day / my brother's dog Rover / got run over. / (Rover was killed by a Pontiac. And it was done with such grace and artistry that the witnesses awarded the driver both ears and the tail – but I digress.)
  2. (intransitive) To turn aside from the right path; to transgress; to offend.
    • 1623, William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of King Richard the Second, Act 5 Scene 3
      Thy overflow of good converts to bad;
      And thy abundant goodness shall excuse
      This deadly blot in thy digressing son.

Usage notesEdit

Often heard in the set phrase But I digress, where the word behaves as a stative verb, whereas it otherwise patterns as a dynamic verb.


  • (turn from the course of argument): sidetrack

Related termsEdit