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[dee-vee-uh s] /ˈdi vi əs/
departing from the most direct way; circuitous; indirect:
a devious course.
without definite course; vagrant:
a devious current.
departing from the proper or accepted way; roundabout:
a devious procedure.
not straightforward; shifty or crooked:
a devious scheme to acquire wealth.
Origin of devious
1590-1600; < Latin dēvius out-of-the way, erratic, equivalent to dē- de- + -vius adj. derivative of via way; see -ous
Related forms
deviously, adverb
deviousness, noun
nondevious, adjective
nondeviously, adverb
nondeviousness, noun
undevious, adjective
undeviously, adverb
undeviousness, noun
1. roundabout, tortuous, involved. 4. subtle, cunning, crafty, artful, sly. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for devious
  • It's a valid, though underhanded and devious, tactic.
  • To stay entertained, the impatient mind often stretches to great imaginative lengths—sometimes even devious ones.
  • To be sure, there are devious drug companies and incompetent and crooked physicians who will wreak havoc with one's health.
  • If you prefer the more devious version, so be it.
  • There is, also the other possibility, wherein the sellers find more devious ways to sell.
  • Indeed you are correct but what constitutes "devious" behavior by one party is usually considered clever diplomacy by another.
  • Quite frankly, the devious are able to develop means for circumventing any rule.
  • Then, with a devious grin, he obliged.
  • Dalí's devious wit was legendary, but in this case it appears he was being sincere.
  • What she uncovers is a devious plot that involves greed and an intolerance of the homeless and the elderly.
British Dictionary definitions for devious


not sincere or candid; deceitful; underhand
(of a route or course of action) rambling; indirect; roundabout
going astray from a proper or accepted way; erring
Derived Forms
deviously, adverb
deviousness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin dēvius lying to one side of the road, from de- + via road
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for devious

1590s, "out of the way," from Latin devius "out of the way, remote, off the main road," from de via (see deviate). Originally in the Latin literal sense; figurative sense of "deceitful" is first recorded 1630s. Related: Deviously; deviousness. Figurative senses of the Latin word were "retired, sequestered, wandering in the byways, foolish, inconsistent."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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