Definition of avert in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Turn away (one's eyes or thoughts)

    ‘she averted her eyes during the more violent scenes’
    • ‘I'd expect to be averting my eyes from a commercial that had children playing adults in a role-reversal scenario.’
    • ‘Shara saw Deidre try to avert her eyes, but was drawn to the now complete tattoo.’
    • ‘Within a month of my accepting that position, I was out there with the best of them covering my face to the eyes to hide the gaze of men, averting my eyes, and wearing chadori for trips to rural areas.’
    • ‘It doesn't help matters that the film features inadequate performances that mostly consist of actors averting their eyes and shifting in their seats.’
    • ‘You can chew on the irony of icon-maker MTV presenting this notion when you're averting your eyes during the extended surgery scenes.’
    • ‘They don't make for pretty reading and some of you may wish to avert your eyes now.’
    • ‘Now she was the one who couldn't bear to look at him - averting her eyes, she pretended the stick shift fascinated her.’
    • ‘Hard and social science will of course progress even though the Supreme Court averts its eyes.’
    • ‘I have to avert my eyes after more than a few minutes of Walt Disney.’
    • ‘Dogs are intelligent enough to stay in the shade and avert their eyes from the sun.’
    • ‘People in the bar looked around, but quickly averted their eyes.’
    • ‘The sallow-faced Salome averts her scheming eyes from what she has brought about.’
    • ‘While walking, I instinctively keep my gaze low and avert my eyes from those of men.’
    • ‘I remember reading years ago that if you cannot help someone in the midst of a crisis you can at least offer your respect for their strength by not averting your eyes from their struggle.’
    • ‘He let Ethan spend thirty dollars of credit, on the theory it was free money anyway, averting his eyes from the actual selections.’
    • ‘We have to avert our eyes from the bombs and fires once in a while to look at the other images of this war.’
    • ‘I averted my eyes from the television, trying desperately to distract myself.’
    • ‘She averted her eyes, shifting her gaze to her feet in an attempt to avoid the mischievous curl of his lips.’
    • ‘But American reporters are studiously averting their eyes, lest they stumble over a story.’
    • ‘In a feeble attempt to not be noticed, she averted her eyes from the building and began to draw.’
    turn aside, turn away, turn to one side
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  • 2Prevent or ward off (an undesirable occurrence)

    ‘talks failed to avert a rail strike’
    • ‘After such a demoralizing outing, it would have taken a miracle to avert a catastrophe.’
    • ‘The crowd of people gathered in the area cheered, and the incident ended in averting the man's death wish.’
    • ‘The Cell would also help avert accidental deaths and disabling injuries by providing proper first aid.’
    • ‘They found, not surprisingly, that averting a major catastrophe would not be easy.’
    • ‘Can Africa mount a prevention campaign successful enough to avert an epidemic of Western proportions?’
    • ‘Although still traumatized and in counselling, she is now back in Russia where she shares her experience with other women in the hope of averting the same experience for them.’
    • ‘A vigilant driver managed to stop the locomotive and avert a major disaster.’
    • ‘Two weeks later, passengers on another Greyhound bus were credited with averting disaster in Utah after they helped thwart an alleged hijacker.’
    • ‘Faltering talks over firefighters' pay left little hope last night of averting the start of an eight-day national fire strike this morning.’
    • ‘The colonial state consciously forswore any attempt at intervening and averting these catastrophes.’
    • ‘‘Treating and curing TB at first sign prevents its spread, averts death and reduces the burden TB patients place on the healthcare system,’ she said.’
    • ‘Yet just as it seemed that disaster was averted another major problem started.’
    • ‘Why, only last week I was involved in a little incident, but I kept my cool and averted disaster.’
    • ‘The Foreign Ministry explained the move as a protective measure aimed at averting any failure of the privatisation procedure.’
    • ‘The results are immediate and it averts closing-day disasters.’
    • ‘The far-fetched, last minute intervention, presumably by the hand of God, that averts tragedy from striking the family sits uncomfortably with the raw realism of the rest of the picture.’
    • ‘I did, however, do my part to try to avert the disaster that ended about five years later in divorce.’
    • ‘Inflation fighting and the need to cut government spending will end - to be replaced by trying to avert recession and deflation.’
    • ‘Their bumbling averts cataclysmic disasters that confront the Earth - most of which are their own creation.’
    • ‘The stakes are high, and the rewards of successfully averting the coming catastrophe are even greater.’
    prevent, stop, avoid, nip in the bud
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Late Middle English (in the sense ‘divert or deter someone from a place or a course of action’): from Latin avertere, from ab- ‘from’ + vertere ‘to turn’; reinforced by Old French avertir.