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[path, pahth] /pæθ, pɑθ/
noun, plural paths [path z, pahth z, paths, pahths] /pæðz, pɑðz, pæθs, pɑθs/ (Show IPA)
a way beaten, formed, or trodden by the feet of persons or animals.
a narrow walk or way:
a path through a garden; a bicycle path.
a route, course, or track along which something moves:
the path of a hurricane.
a course of action, conduct, or procedure:
the path of righteousness.
Mathematics. a continuous curve that connects two or more points.
Computers. the sequence of steps that a computer follows in carrying out a routine, as in storing and retrieving a file at a specific location.
cross one's path, to encounter or meet unexpectedly:
Tragedy crossed our path again.
before 900; Middle English; Old English pæth; cognate with German Pfad
Related forms
multipath, noun
outpath, noun
1. footpath, pathway. Path, lane, trail are passages or routes not as wide as a way or road. A path is a way for passing on foot; a track, beaten by feet, not specially constructed, is often along the side of a road: a path through a field. A lane is a narrow road or track, generally between fields, often enclosed with fences or trees; sometimes it is an alley or narrow road between buildings in towns: a lane leading to a farmhouse; Drury Lane. A trail is a rough way made or worn through woods, or across mountains, prairies, or other untraveled regions: an Indian trail.


variant of patho- before a vowel:


a combining form occurring in personal nouns corresponding to abstract nouns ending in -pathy, with the general sense “one practicing such a treatment” (osteopath) or “one suffering from such an ailment” (psychopath).

path. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for path
  • Ask the department head about the opportunities for research support and about the path to tenure.
  • The stakes are high, and the path forward is uncertain.
  • But throughout the period, the planet has wobbled on its path around the sun.
  • Basically, the eye moves when something crosses the path of vision.
  • Link would mark a train's path with lanterns, and then map out where to set out flash reflectors.
  • If you don't already have a path or bed to start with, you can make one in a weekend.
  • For those in the path of this storm, our thoughts are with you.
  • Somewhere out there is an ambitious but frugal high-school graduate who wants to avoid a traditional college path.
  • And no matter how charmingly he delivers them-and he is an engaging, funny speaker-they're a path to disaster.
  • Mirages are a direct result of photons taking the path of minimum time in vertical temperature gradients.
British Dictionary definitions for path


noun (pl) paths (pɑːðz)
a road or way, esp a narrow trodden track
a surfaced walk, as through a garden
the course or direction in which something moves: the path of a whirlwind
a course of conduct: the path of virtue
(computing) the directions for reaching a particular file or directory, as traced hierarchically through each of the parent directories usually from the root; the file or directoryand all parent directories are separated from one another in the path by slashes
Derived Forms
pathless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English pæth; related to Old High German, German Pfad




combining form
denoting a person suffering from a specified disease or disorder: neuropath
denoting a practitioner of a particular method of treatment: osteopath
Word Origin
back formation from -pathy
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 path

Old English paþ, pæþ "path, track," from West Germanic *patha- (cf. Old Frisian path, Middle Dutch pat, Dutch pad, Old High German pfad, German Pfad "path"), of unknown origin. The original initial -p- in a Germanic word is an etymological puzzle. Watkins says the word is "probably borrowed (? via Scythian) from Iranian *path-," from PIE root *pent- "to tread, go, pass" (cf. Avestan patha "way;" see find (v.)), but this is too much of a stretch for OED and others. In Scotland and Northern England, commonly a steep ascent of a hill or in a road.


word-forming element used in modern formations to mean "one suffering from" (a disease or condition), from Greek -pathes, from pathos "suffering" (see pathos). Also "one versed in" (a certain type of treatment), in which cases it is a back-formation from -pathy in the related sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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path in Medicine

-path suff.

  1. A practitioner of a specified kind of medical treatment: naturopath.

  2. One affected by a specified kind of disorder: sociopath.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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path in Technology

1. A bang path or explicitly routed Internet address; a node-by-node specification of a link between two machines.
2. pathname.
3. The list of directories the kernel (under Unix) or the command interpreter (under MS-DOS) searches for executables. It is stored as part of the environment in both operating systems.
Other, similar constructs abound under Unix; the C preprocessor, for example, uses such a search path to locate "#include" files.
[Jargon File]
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Related Abbreviations for path


  1. Port Authority Trans-Hudson
  2. Program for Appropriate Technology in Health


  1. pathological
  2. pathology
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with path
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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