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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I made my escape the next morning through the stable back of the house, and then, by devious dark and winding ways, to the office.

    The Man in Lower Ten Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • He might approach the subject by these devious ways, he told himself.

    Changing Winds St. John G. Ervine
  • But the ways of heredity are devious, and not every gentleman's son is to the manor born.

  • Perplexed by his devious ramble, he was more at fault than ever.

    Chronicles of Border Warfare Alexander Scott Withers
  • This grew to a steady downfall as the open towards Chingford station was approached at last, after devious winding in the Forest.

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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