Etymology: Middle English, from Old English sweorfan to wipe, file away; akin to Old High German swerban to wipe off, Welsh chwerfu to whirl
Date: 14th century
to turn aside abruptly from a straight line or course ; deviate
to cause to turn aside or deviate
• swerve noun
swerve, veer, deviate, depart, digress, diverge mean to turn aside from a straight course. swerve may suggest a physical, mental, or moral turning away from a given course, often with abruptness <swerved to avoid hitting the dog>. veer implies a major change in direction <at that point the path veers to the right>. deviate implies a turning from a customary or prescribed course <never deviated from her daily routine>. depart suggests a deviation from a traditional or conventional course or type <occasionally departs from his own guidelines>. digress applies to a departing from the subject of one's discourse <a professor prone to digress>. diverge may equal depart but usually suggests a branching of a main path into two or more leading in different directions <after school their paths diverged>.
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.