1 a : wandering, roundabout
b : moving without a fixed course : errant
2 : out-of-the-way, remote
3 a : deviating from a right, accepted, or common course
b : not straightforward : cunning; also : deceptive
Did You Know?
If you think someone devious has lost their way, you’re right, etymologically speaking—the word derives from the Latin adjective devius, itself formed from the prefix de- (“from” or “away”) and the noun via (“way”). When devious was first used in the 16th century, it implied a literal wandering off the way, suggesting something that meandered or had no fixed course (as in “a devious route” or “devious breezes”). Relatively quickly, however, the word came to describe someone or something that had left the right path metaphorically rather than literally, or to describe deceitful rather than straightforward behavior.
Our guide took us by a devious route to the center of the city.
“Monkeys? Oh, my word. Just as nasty as can be. They’re like naked little people only more devious.” — Mark Hayter, The Courier (Conroe, Texas), 20 Nov. 2020