Definition of indirection in US English:



  • Indirectness or lack of straightforwardness in action, speech, or progression.

    ‘his love of intrigue and sly indirection’
    • ‘Sad yet again, if so, that journalists have to resort to indirection to shame their seemingly unshamable peers.’
    • ‘The ferry barges across the seafront for its dock with categoric straightness, welcome after the shambles and indirection of Portsmouth.’
    • ‘In what may be the ultimate feat of subtlety and indirection, they want to control the behemoth by appealing to its conscience.’
    • ‘Each in his way, Shelley and Musset pushed to extremes the art of indirection; another word would be suspense.’
    • ‘But the personal attacks were there, veiled under euphonious indirection.’
    • ‘In all this indirection, finding direction out is, admittedly, a formidable enterprise.’
    • ‘But some media, which operate through indirection, are at least as important: music, the graphic arts.’
    • ‘Even the simplest language of novels - in Hemingway, for example, or Camus - signifies by indirection a relation to literature and to the world.’
    • ‘Call me old-fashioned but back in the good-old-days this used to be done with a bit more indirection, subterfuge and cover, no?’
    • ‘His method is understatement, indirection, irony.’
    • ‘We seem to want to talk to exactly the people in the past that most scribes in the past found unworthy to record, and so we seek their voices by indirection.’
    • ‘Metaphorical indirection gives way to explicit generalization.’
    • ‘His interest in gray is metaphysical as well as visual, for he cultivates ambiguity, indirection, and impermanence.’
    • ‘We achieve indirection by exploring that topic metaphorically, via a poem, a story, a piece of music, or a work of art that embodies it.’
    • ‘Rather, the commission is likely to pursue consumption taxation by stealth and indirection.’
    • ‘Fantasy, by contrast, enables writers to confront the terrors of our time by way of parabolic indirection.’
    • ‘Along with many exotic artifacts, Feng has imported the codes and language of courtly love, with its cult of indirection, of secrecy, and of long, slow, wooing.’
    • ‘If you're going to take on an author as indirect and allusive as James, then it might be good to try for indirection and allusiveness.’
    • ‘There's a layer of indirection there, and such layers always make things more flexible and more complex.’
    • ‘It remains for the narrator to incorporate into his own art of narration the advantages of artistic indirection with the certainty of effects.’


Late 16th century: from indirect, on the pattern of direction.