9 Synonyms To Use Instead Of “Avoid”

How to avoid "avoid"

It’s human nature to avoid things. Steering clear of dangerous phenomena like lions, volcanoes, or large boulders has helped us stay alive. But we also tend to stay away from less life-threatening activities like math homework, DMV visits, or phone calls with family. By either measure: avoiding things is an integral part of life, and knowing different ways to say “avoid” can only benefit us as a species.

So the next time you need to wriggle out of obligations or explain an absence, use one of the following terms. And, as always, feel free to visit Thesaurus.com for even more avoid alternatives, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.


To evade something is to escape from it “by trickery or cleverness.”

You could almost imagine a scene from a movie: a man, being chased down an alleyway, turns the corner, slips into a group of parade marchers, rips off his jacket and hat, and loses his pursuers in the crowd. That’s some top-notch evasion.


When you misdirect someone, you’re sending them in the wrong direction. For instance, the post office unintentionally misdirected the package to the wrong address or the GPS misdirected him to the wrong highway exit.

Either way, something or someone is lost. Hope you have your tracking number handy.


You may know skirt as a type of clothing, but when you’re skirting something, you’re edging along the border, so to speak, to avoid it: The senator skirted the issueOf course, this rarely happens with politicians … right?

You might hear this word in the weather headlines, too. If you think your town is about to get blasted with snow, but the forecasters got it wrong, they’d cover their tracks by saying, “The storm took a different track and ended up skirting the city.”


Eschew is used a bit less frequently these days than some others on this list, although it dates back to the 1300s, so it’s been having a good run. To eschew something is “to abstain from it, or to avoid or shun it.”

In general, you’re more likely to encounter this word in print than in speech. You might say vegetarians eschew eating meat, just as pacifists eschew violence. Eschew. God bless you.


Here’s another word that works the sneaky angle. In addition to meaning “to go around or bypass,” to circumvent something means to avoid it by “artfulness or deception,” or by “anticipating or outwitting” something or someone. Very MacGyver.

In fact, you might say MacGyver frequently circumvented capture by anticipating his adversary’s tactics. Another usage commonly heard is when someone circumvents the law. Lawyers (and criminals) can do this by finding obscure loopholes.


If you dodge someone, you’re “eluding or evading by a sudden shift of position.”

In a more literal sense, you can do this by springing out of the way of an oncoming car, for example. Or, more figuratively, you might dodge a topic by giving answers to questions that weren’t asked in the first place.


When you deflect, you “bend or turn aside,” or “turn from a true course or straight line.” In soccer, you might deflect a shot on your team’s goal by kicking an incoming ball away from the net.

Less literally, you might say, “the company deflected any talk of a slump by announcing record profits.” Bonus for the Trekkies out there: don’t forget about the Enterprise’s deflector dish.

fake out

This is a commonly used informal verb phrase that means to deceive. Remember when that guy at school suddenly became your best friend right before final exams? He just wanted to copy your bio-chem answers. You got faked out, buddy.

It can also be used as a physical reference, like when a football runner fakes out a tackler with a fancy move at the goal line.


We define this as “to turn aside or from a path or course” or “to deflect.”

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