From Middle English eschewen, from Anglo-Norman eschiver, (third-person present eschiu), from Frankish *skiuhijan (to dread, shun, avoid); thus a doublet of skew.

For the pronunciation with /ʃ/, compare the development of marshal from Middle English marschal (/marsˈt͡ʃaːl/) or Middle English myssheve, variant of myschef (hardship). Variants in /sk/ are either from unattested Middle English *eskewen (from Old Northern French eskiver; compare skew) or are spelling pronunciations.

See also French esquiver.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ɛsˈt͡ʃuː/[1], /ɪsˈt͡ʃuː/[1][2][3], /ɪʃˈt͡ʃuː/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ɛsˈt͡ʃu/[4][5][6], /ɪsˈt͡ʃu/[4][7], /ɛsˈt͡ʃju/[6]
    • Audio (US):(file)
  • (US, sometimes proscribed) IPA(key): /ɛˈʃu/[4], /ɪˈʃu/[4]
  • (US, sometimes proscribed) IPA(key): /ɛˈskju/[4][8]
    Garner's Modern American Usage prefers /s.t͡ʃ/, proscribes /ʃ/, and does not recognize /sk/.
  • Rhymes: -uː



eschew (third-person singular simple present eschews, present participle eschewing, simple past and past participle eschewed)

  1. (transitive, formal) To avoid; to shun, to shy away from.
    • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur Book XX, Chapter vii, leaf 404v:
      And peraduenture my lady the quene sente for hym to that entente that syr Launcelot shold come to her good grace pryuely and secretely wenynge to her that hit was best so to do in eschewyng & dredyng of sklaunder
      "And peradventure my lady, the queen, sent for him to that intent that Sir Launcelot should come to her good grace privily and secretly, weening to her that it was best so to do, in eschewing and dreading of slander"
    • c. 1597 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Merry Wiues of Windsor”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, (please specify the act number in uppercase Roman numerals, and the scene number in lowercase Roman numerals):
      What cannot be eschew'd must be embrac'd.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, 1 Peter 3:11:
      Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
    • 1831, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter XVIII, in Romance and Reality. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, [], →OCLC, page 218:
      Above all, let her eschew the impertinence of invention; let her leave genius to her milliner.
    • 1927, H. P. Lovecraft, The Horror at Red Hook:
      He could afford no servants, and would admit but few visitors to his absolute solitude; eschewing close friendships and receiving his rare acquaintances in one of the three ground-floor rooms which he kept in order.
    • 2014 November 14, Blake Bailey, “'Tennessee Williams,' by John Lahr [print version: Theatrical victory of art over life, International New York Times, 18 November 2014, p. 13]”, in The New York Times[1]:
      [S]he [Edwina, mother of Tennessee Williams] was indeed Amanda [Wingfield, character in Williams' play The Glass Menagerie] in the flesh: a doughty chatterbox from Ohio who adopted the manner of a Southern belle and eschewed both drink and sex to the greatest extent possible.
    • 2020 December 2, Paul Bigland, “My weirdest and wackiest Rover yet”, in Rail, page 65:
      I eschew the idea of plugging in my laptop to take notes and resort to old-fashioned pen and paper instead, so that I can enjoy more of the view and not be distracted by bashing a keyboard.

Usage notes

  • The verb eschew is not normally applied to the avoidance or shunning of a person or physical object, but rather, only to the avoidance or shunning of an idea, concept, or other intangible.

Derived terms





  1. 1.0 1.1 Concise Oxford English Dictionary
  2. ^ Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
  3. ^ MacMillan's British dictionary
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, eleventh edition
  5. ^ Dictionary.com's (primary) dictionary
  6. 6.0 6.1 Keynon and Knott's A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English
  7. ^ Collins English Dictionary, tenth edition
  8. ^ John Walker's A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language, which quotes James Elphinston, who also preferred the spelling eskew