"a roundabout or circuitous way," 1738, from French détour, from Old French destor "side road, byway; evasion, excuse," from destorner "turn aside," from des- "aside" (see dis-) + tourner "to turn" (see turn (v.)). In 18c. usually figurative. Usually treated as a French word in English (with italics and the accent mark) until late 19c.
1835, "make a detour" (intransitive); 1897, "send on a detour" (transitive), from detour (n.). Related: Detoured; detouring.
Entries linking to detour
word-forming element of Latin origin meaning 1. "lack of, not" (as in dishonest); 2. "opposite of, do the opposite of" (as in disallow); 3. "apart, away" (as in discard), from Old French des- or directly from Latin dis- "apart, asunder, in a different direction, between," figuratively "not, un-," also "exceedingly, utterly." Assimilated as dif- before -f- and to di- before most voiced consonants.
The Latin prefix is from PIE *dis- "apart, asunder" (source also of Old English te-, Old Saxon ti-, Old High German ze-, German zer-). The PIE root is a secondary form of *dwis- and thus is related to Latin bis "twice" (originally *dvis) and to duo, on notion of "two ways, in twain" (hence "apart, asunder").
In classical Latin, dis- paralleled de- and had much the same meaning, but in Late Latin dis- came to be the favored form and this passed into Old French as des-, the form used for compound words formed in Old French, where it increasingly had a privative sense ("not"). In English, many of these words eventually were altered back to dis-, while in French many have been altered back to de-. The usual confusion prevails.
As a living prefix in English, it reverses or negatives what it is affixed to. Sometimes, as in Italian, it is reduced to s- (as in spend, splay, sport, sdain for disdain, and the surnames Spencer and Spence).
late Old English turnian "to rotate, revolve," in part also from Old French torner "to turn away or around; draw aside, cause to turn; change, transform; turn on a lathe" (Modern French tourner), both from Latin tornare "to polish, round off, fashion, turn on a lathe," from tornus "lathe," from Greek tornos "lathe, tool for drawing circles," from PIE root *tere- (1) "to rub, turn." Transitive sense in English is from c. 1300. Related: Turned; turning.
Use in expression to turn (something) into (something else) probably retains the classical sense of "to shape on a lathe." To turn up "arrive, make an appearance" is recorded from 1755. Turn about "by turns, alternately" is recorded from 1640s. To turn (something) loose "set free" is recorded from 1590s. Turn down (v.) "reject" first recorded 1891, American English. Turn in "go to bed" is attested from 1690s, originally nautical. To turn the stomach "nauseate" is recorded from 1620s. To turn up one's nose as an expression of contempt is attested from 1779.
Turning point is attested by 1640s in a figurative sense "point at which a decisive change takes place;" literal sense "point on which a thing turns; point at which motion in one direction ceases and that in another or contrary direction begins" is from 1660s.
*terə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to rub, turn," with derivatives referring to twisting, also to boring, drilling, piercing; and to the rubbing of cereal grain to remove the husks, and thus to threshing.
It forms all or part of: atresia; attorn; attorney; attrition; contour; contrite; detour; detriment; diatribe; drill (v.) "bore a hole;" lithotripsy; return; septentrion; thrash; thread; thresh; throw; threshold; trauma; trepan; tribadism; tribology; tribulation; trite; triticale; triturate; trout; trypsin; tryptophan; turn.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit turah "wounded, hurt;" Greek teirein "to rub, rub away;" Latin terere "to rub, thresh, grind, wear away," tornus "turning lathe;" Old Church Slavonic tiro "to rub;" Lithuanian trinu, trinti "to rub," Old Irish tarathar "borer," Welsh taraw "to strike."
updated on August 20, 2018