Definition of avoid in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Keep away from or stop oneself from doing (something)

    ‘avoid excessive exposure to the sun’
    • ‘Wipe up spills promptly to avoid excessive smoke during the cleaning cycle.’
    • ‘The league also implemented a deterrent to avoid excessive use of instant replay.’
    • ‘Sudden physical exercise can trigger a migraine, although regular exercise rather than avoiding it may help stop attacks.’
    • ‘Low-level radiation is also the reason for avoiding excessive exposures of x-rays to personnel working in the fields of medicine, dentistry and defence and engineering.’
    • ‘People with chronic bronchitis should stop smoking and avoid second-hand smoke.’
    • ‘Fruit flavor is related to the amount of foliage on the plants, so avoid excessive pruning for best results.’
    • ‘Better still, aim for less packaging by avoiding those products with excessive or unnecessary packaging.’
    • ‘Travel directly to the meeting venue and avoid any contact with susceptible animals and agricultural land.’
    • ‘Why, you try cutting them out, stop eating them, avoiding temptation.’
    • ‘‘Stop avoiding the subject,’ I snap suddenly, trying my best to keep my anger under control as I cry.’
    • ‘Counseling patients at increased risk to avoid excess sun exposure is recommended.’
    • ‘Also, avoid excessive consumption of protein and foods high in yellow dyes.’
    • ‘We introduced ourselves as refugees from Pakistan, to avoid excessive attention.’
    • ‘I don't have all the answers, but I think we have to stop avoiding the questions.’
    • ‘By avoiding excessive reverence, Lucas makes the first appearance of the black mask and costume a moment of profound sadness.’
    • ‘Ironically, women who seek these treatments to improve the appearance of their skin could have avoided their fate by avoiding excessive sun exposure in the first place.’
    • ‘In the meantime, patients should be advised to avoid excessive exposure to sunlight.’
    • ‘For example, patients with diabetes may need help in avoiding excessive sugar intake as an inappropriate way of improving food taste.’
    • ‘What is the best method for those who wish to avoid excessive sun exposure and dairy sources of vitamin D?’
    • ‘It was time Arin stopped avoiding the conversation.’
    keep away from, stay away from, steer clear of, circumvent, give a wide berth to, give something a miss, keep at arm's length, fight shy of
    refrain from, abstain from, desist from, forbear from, eschew
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Contrive not to meet (someone)
      ‘boys lined up to meet Gloria, but avoided her bossy sister’
      • ‘I noticed that most people seemed to be going out of their way to avoid him.’
      • ‘I'd make snide remarks to him, snub him, give him disparaging looks and he usually responded by ignoring my bad behavior and avoiding me.’
      • ‘It wasn't my cousin getting married that had me so worked up, but rather that the event would require seeing my father again, after over a year and a half of politely avoiding him.’
      • ‘We sprinted toward the massive building trying to avoid anyone that we may have met.’
      • ‘But still, I found myself unconsciously avoiding him.’
      • ‘She could tell that Hannah had been looking for her but she had been avoiding her, ducking into large groups of people or ignoring her.’
      • ‘Either that or they're being spiteful and avoiding me.’
      • ‘It was a sheer invitation to stop avoiding them, and Tal suddenly felt guilty.’
      • ‘Or will I get paranoid and think everybody's avoiding me?’
      • ‘Instead the people were strange and avoided her.’
      • ‘His coworkers had been avoiding him all day, and no one would meet his eyes.’
      • ‘I wish people wouldn't assume I need something from them, avoiding me to keep themselves off the hook.’
      • ‘So if you're going you'll have great difficulty avoiding me.’
      • ‘After all, she had already started avoiding me.’
      • ‘I guess I did everything I can so I'm just going to accept her waltz of displeasure as she avoids me in the halls of the school.’
      • ‘It isn't surprising that she's lonely, because most people would prefer to avoid her whenever possible.’
      • ‘And that's why you avoided me after you met Lucky at the hospital.’
      • ‘I turn to serve myself a glass of something, just to avoid them, but stop when she taps me on the arm.’
      • ‘Their uncle remained in Dundee and the sisters would go to great lengths to avoid him, rarely attending family gatherings if he was there.’
      • ‘There may well be something about me in person that leaves people cold and wanting to avoid me.’
      shun, stay away from, evade, keep one's distance from, hide from, elude
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Not go to or through (a place)
      ‘this route avoids downtown Boston’
      • ‘Police officers avoided the place like sheep from a lion's den, which made cash exchanges very convenient.’
      • ‘It looked different… maybe a coat of paint, or something, or maybe it was just because I'd avoided the place since Kate died.’
      • ‘No doubt patients will avoid the place too if they have the choice.’
      • ‘Since I'm going to NYC a few days after writing this, we can certainly avoid those places.’
      • ‘I am now so paranoid at not paying a fine I will avoid the place.’
      • ‘Driving without thinking, she had come to the one of the darkest parts of the city where most people avoided.’
      • ‘What also concerns me is I have been informed these measures are so severe drivers are already avoiding using this route.’
      • ‘Singapore Airlines and other carriers cut flights after visitors avoided the city and as many as nine in 10 hotel rooms were left empty.’
      • ‘I think people are just avoiding the scene altogether.’
      • ‘If enough people avoid the place of the robbery or the assault, the problem will go away.’
      • ‘I usually avoided what was probably the most direct route in favour of a longer path that meant I had more people to walk with and more houses to go past.’
      • ‘Finally, he is forced to go to the Public Welfare Office, a place he has avoided out of pride.’
      • ‘The organisers advise that vehicle owners avoid the area and use alternative routes.’
      • ‘As they do now, people avoided public spaces, knowing that dumb luck could put you in the mortally wrong place at the wrong moment.’
      • ‘Many motorists avoid taking the road and prefer a longer route to reach their destination.’
      • ‘In Hong Kong, scores of schools have closed, and some people are avoiding crowded places.’
      • ‘And he avoided noisy and crowded at all costs… which meant he also avoided places like malls.’
      • ‘Some postal workers specifically avoided the World Trade Centre because its upper floors were known to creak and sway in stiff winds.’
      • ‘The library was now open and it was time to find out why Emily was avoiding this place like the black plague.’
      • ‘Most people avoided the place entirely, except for perhaps the occasional adventurer or scientist.’
    3. 1.3 Prevent from happening.
      ‘make the necessary adjustments to avoid an accident’
      • ‘IceWind skidded to an abrupt stop to avoid a collision with StormCall's hindquarters.’
      • ‘You stop smoking to avoid dying of cancer or lung disease, but you get fat and run the risk of stroke and heart disease.’
      • ‘Increased awareness and prevention are key to avoiding Lyme disease.’
      • ‘The Met Office estimates £1 billion damage is caused to homes by bad weather alone, and much could be avoided by taking preventative measures.’
      • ‘Contact with Mickie was never prolonged, when useful conversation was exhausted, he politely terminated the meeting avoiding boredom on either side.’
      • ‘Jackson failed to stop and went through the lights at red, forcing the driver of a taxi to make an emergency stop to avoid a collision.’
      • ‘War must be avoided to prevent a wider rift between the Muslim world and the United States.’
      • ‘Those interested are advised to book early, to avoid disappointment.’
      • ‘He said even the mine accidents that had been happening could have been avoided had monitoring committees been in place.’
      • ‘The accident could have been avoided only by detecting the track fault and preventing the freight train derailment.’
      • ‘Freeman argued that at the time he was being chased by paparazzi and was forced to drive with excessive speed to avoid death or injury.’
      • ‘Limited tickets available so book early to avoid disappointment.’
      • ‘The reason to do it now is preventive to try and avoid a toothless old age for her.’
      • ‘She said: ‘Once again, it is another accident which could be avoided.’’
      • ‘A man driving on the Rotary roundabout in summer last year avoided injury after he stopped his vehicle to stamp out what he thought was a small fire.’
      • ‘According to World Bank, 30 per cent of deaths due to accidents can be avoided if better emergency medical facilities are provided.’
      • ‘I wonder how many road accidents will be avoided if this happens, especially those one vehicle accidents that seem to occur with regularity in the early hours of the morning.’
      • ‘It is timely reminder that many farm-related accidents can be avoided if potential hazards are clearly identified and precautions taken.’
      • ‘By following some simple rules on DIY safety, many of the most common accidents can be simply avoided.’
      • ‘They believe, however, that people should be allowed to determine when they die so as to avoid excessive pain or distress for their relatives.’
      avert, prevent, preclude, rule out, counter, forestall, nip in the bud
      View synonyms
  • 2Law
    Repudiate, nullify, or render void (a decree or contract).

    • ‘It could be said that payments under void or avoided contracts are made on the basis of a failure of consideration.’
    • ‘As he put it, there might be liability in tort to third parties but there was no basis on which the contract of sale itself could be avoided.’
    • ‘As the contract had not been avoided at the date of the sale to the defendants, they acquired a good title in the goods.’
    • ‘It was a lighter matter to interfere with freedom of contract and avoid covenants under seal.’
    • ‘It is one process that could have been used, your Honour, but the alternative process is to sue for the return of the money on the ground that the contract has been avoided.’


  • avoid someone/something like the plague

    • Try hard to avoid someone or something.

      ‘a place that Robyn normally avoided like the plague’
      ‘I avoid business lunches like the plague’
      • ‘I otherwise try and avoid chain eateries like the plague.’
      • ‘Nowadays production companies try to avoid such situations like the plague.’
      • ‘I do believe Mobile phones makes us more productive, which is why I avoid them like the plague.’
      • ‘Abruptly, Shawn realized a reason why Emma had been avoiding him like the plague.’
      • ‘Once you apologize, you should avoid the subject like the plague.’
      • ‘Many serious dramatic actors seem to avoid romantic comedy like the plague.’
      • ‘In an effort to keep my sanity, I've avoided his speeches like the plague over the last six months.’
      • ‘Both sides will want to avoid defeat like the plague.’
      • ‘I have a dangerously addictive personality, which is why I avoid drugs like the plague.’
      • ‘I always advise speakers to avoid cliches like the plague!’


Late Middle English: from Old French evuider ‘clear out, get rid of’, from vuide ‘empty’ (see void).