de·​vi·​ous ˈdē-vē-əs How to pronounce devious (audio)
: wandering, roundabout
a devious path
: moving without a fixed course : errant
devious breezes
: out-of-the-way, remote
upon devious coasts
: deviating from a right, accepted, or common course
devious conduct
: not straightforward : cunning
a devious politician
also : deceptive
a devious trick
a devious plot
deviously adverb
deviousness noun

Did you know?

The "Lost" History of Devious

If you think someone devious has lost their way, you're right, etymologically speaking—the word derives from the Latin adjective devius, itself formed from the prefix de- ("from" or "away") and the noun via ("way"). When devious was first used in the 16th century, it implied a literal wandering off the way, suggesting something that meandered or had no fixed course (as in "a devious route" or "devious breezes"). Relatively quickly, however, the word came to describe someone or something that had left the right path metaphorically rather than literally, or to describe deceitful rather than straightforward behavior.

Examples of devious in a Sentence

a dishonest and devious politician He took us by a devious route to the center of the city.
Recent Examples on the Web Via radio, groups within the territory keep one another apprised of the approach of devious gold miners, and exchange updates on children who have fallen ill to the various illnesses (malaria, coronavirus) that the outsiders bring into the region. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 May 2024 But there are only so many places cameras are allowed to go, so Panh supplements his frame, and the trio’s documentations, with a visual device that seems charming and whimsical, but soon takes on a devious quality. Siddhant Adlakha, Variety, 16 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for devious 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'devious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin devius, from de from + via way — more at de-, way

First Known Use

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of devious was in 1599


Dictionary Entries Near devious

Cite this Entry

“Devious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


de·​vi·​ous ˈdē-vē-əs How to pronounce devious (audio)
: straying from a straight course : roundabout
the devious trail that wound along the creek
leading through devious mazes
: sneaky, deceptive
a devious plan
got it by devious means
deviously adverb
deviousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on devious

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