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[dih-rek-shuh n, dahy-] /dɪˈrɛk ʃən, ˈdaɪ-/
the act or an instance of directing.
the line along which anything lies, faces, moves, etc., with reference to the point or region toward which it is directed:
The storm moved in a northerly direction.
the point or region itself:
The direction is north.
a position on a line extending from a specific point toward a point of the compass or toward the nadir or the zenith.
a line of thought or action or a tendency or inclination:
the direction of contemporary thought.
Usually, directions. instruction or guidance for making, using, etc.:
directions for baking a cake.
order; command.
management; control; guidance; supervision:
a company under good direction.
the name and address of the intended recipient as written on a letter, package, etc.
decisions in a stage or film production as to stage business, speaking of lines, lighting, and general presentation.
the technique, act, or business of making such decisions, managing and training a cast of actors, etc.
the technique, act, or business of directing an orchestra, concert, or other musical presentation or group.
Music. a symbol or phrase that indicates in a score the proper tempo, style of performance, mood, etc.
a purpose or orientation toward a goal that serves to guide or motivate; focus:
He doesn't seem to have any direction in life.
Origin of direction
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English direccioun (< Middle French) < Latin dīrēctiōn- (stem of dīrēctiō) arranging in line, straightening. See direct, -ion
Related forms
directionless, adjective
predirection, noun
self-direction, noun
superdirection, noun
5. See tendency. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for self-direction
Historical Examples
  • It was plain that he meant his Negro hearers to make much of the Negro's capacity for self-direction.

    John Wesley, Jr. Dan B. Brummitt
  • It is not called for by the practical needs of daily self-direction.

    Theoretical Ethics Milton Valentine
  • Many teachers and parents insist upon guiding the pupil long after he is capable of self-direction.

    Training the Teacher A. F. Schauffler
  • He must appreciate the yearning of the American heart after self-direction.

    The Spirit of America Henry Van Dyke
  • In his self-direction thitherward he was as candid, one-pointed, and ruthless as the Arab might be.

    Foes Mary Johnston
  • It substitutes for self-direction the authority of the many.

  • Hitherto he had been mechanical, whereas now he was an engine capable of self-direction—an engine stoked to the brim.

    The Promise of Air Algernon Blackwood
  • The power of volition and self-direction was very nearly gone.

    Guy Livingstone; George A. Lawrence
  • He seemed not only to have missed the way, but had also lost the faculty of self-direction.

    A Dream of Empire William Henry Venable
  • The rights of individuality and of self-direction have been hardly won and are dearly held.

    Manpower Lincoln Clarke Andrews
British Dictionary definitions for self-direction


/dɪˈrɛkʃən; daɪ-/
the act of directing or the state of being directed
management, control, or guidance
the work of a stage or film director
the course or line along which a person or thing moves, points, or lies
the course along which a ship, aircraft, etc, is travelling, expressed as the angle between true or magnetic north and an imaginary line through the main fore-and-aft axis of the vessel
the place towards which a person or thing is directed
a line of action; course
the name and address on a letter, parcel, etc
(music) the process of conducting an orchestra, choir, etc
(music) an instruction in the form of a word or symbol heading or occurring in the body of a passage, movement, or piece to indicate tempo, dynamics, mood, etc
(modifier) (maths)
  1. (of an angle) being any one of the three angles that a line in space makes with the three positive directions of the coordinate axes. Usually given as α, β, and γ with respect to the x-, y-, and z-axes
  2. (of a cosine) being the cosine of any of the direction angles
See also directions
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 self-direction



c.1400, "orderly arrangement;" c.1500 as "action of directing," from Latin directionem (nominative directio), noun of action from past participle stem of dirigere (see direct (v.)). Meaning "course pursued by a moving object" is from 1660s. Related: Directional.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with self-direction
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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