Ask Difference

Avert vs. Divert — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Maham Liaqat — Updated on March 14, 2024
Avert focuses on preventing something undesirable, whereas divert involves changing direction or focus.
Avert vs. Divert — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Avert and Divert


Key Differences

Avert typically means to turn away or to prevent something bad from happening. It involves actions or measures taken to avoid a negative outcome, such as averting a crisis by taking preemptive measures. Divert, on the other hand, usually refers to changing the direction or use of something. It can involve redirecting attention, resources, or a path to a new target or purpose, like diverting traffic due to road construction.
In the context of attention or resources, avert implies a preventative measure to stop something undesirable, while divert suggests reallocating or changing focus. For example, averting one's eyes to avoid seeing something unpleasant, whereas diverting someone's attention to change the topic of conversation.
In terms of physical direction, avert is less commonly used, but it can imply a preventive action to avoid a collision or danger, like averting a car from hitting an obstacle. Divert is more straightforward in this sense, indicating a change in course, such as diverting a river's flow through a different channel.
Avert often carries a sense of urgency or necessity to prevent harm or negative outcomes, emphasizing the avoidance of danger or undesirable situations. Divert, while it can also be used in urgent contexts, often has a broader application, including altering plans, directions, or uses for various reasons, not always linked to preventing negative outcomes.

Comparison Chart


To turn away or prevent something undesirable.
To change direction or focus.

Usage Context

Often used in the context of avoiding harm.
Commonly used to indicate a change in direction or use.


Implies prevention and avoidance of negative outcomes.
Suggests redirection or reallocation.

Common Phrases

Avert disaster, avert one’s eyes.
Divert resources, divert attention.

Action Type

Preventative and protective.
Reallocative or changing.

Compare with Definitions


Prevent or ward off
Quick action can avert disaster.


Change the direction, route, or course of
The parade was diverted due to construction.


Turn away (one's eyes or thoughts)
She averted her eyes during the scary scene.


Reallocate (resources or attention)
Funds were diverted to the new project.


Cause to turn away
The barrier averted the floodwater from the town.


Distract or entertain
The magician's performance diverted the crowd.


Avoid or evade (an undesirable outcome)
Diplomacy was used to avert conflict.


Turn aside from a path or course
The river was diverted through a new channel.


Preclude or avoid
The athlete's rigorous training regimen averted any chance of injury.


Cause (someone) to change course or turn from one direction to another
Road signs diverted the traffic efficiently.


To turn away
Avert one's eyes.


Cause (someone or something) to change course or turn from one direction to another
A scheme to divert water from the river to irrigate agricultural land


To keep from happening; prevent
Averted an accident by turning sharply.


Distract (someone) from something
She managed to divert Rose from the dangerous topic of Lady Usk


(transitive) To turn aside or away.
I averted my eyes while my friend typed in her password.


To turn aside from a course or direction
Traffic was diverted around the scene of the accident.


(transitive) To ward off, or prevent, the occurrence or effects of.
How can the danger be averted?


To distract
My attention was diverted by an argument between motorists.


To turn away.


To entertain by distracting the attention from worrisome thoughts or cares; amuse.


To turn aside, or away; as, to avert the eyes from an object; to ward off, or prevent, the occurrence or effects of; as, how can the danger be averted? "To avert his ire."
When atheists and profane persons do hear of so many discordant and contrary opinions in religion, it doth avert them from the church.
Till ardent prayer averts the public woe.


To turn aside.


To turn away.
Cold and averting from our neighbor's good.


(transitive) To turn aside from a course.
The workers diverted the stream away from the road.


Prevent the occurrence of; prevent from happening;
Let's avoid a confrontation
Head off a confrontation
Avert a strike


(transitive) To distract.
Don't let him divert your attention; keep your eye on the ball.


Turn away or aside;
They averted their eyes when the King entered


(transitive) To entertain or amuse (by diverting the attention)


To turn aside; to digress.


To turn aside; to turn off from any course or intended application; to deflect; as, to divert a river from its channel; to divert commerce from its usual course.
That crude apple that diverted Eve.


To turn away from any occupation, business, or study; to cause to have lively and agreeable sensations; to amuse; to entertain; as, children are diverted with sports; men are diverted with works of wit and humor.
We are amused by a tale, diverted by a comedy.


To turn aside; to digress.
I diverted to see one of the prince's palaces.


Turn aside; turn away from


Send on a course or in a direction different from the planned or intended one


Occupy in an agreeable, entertaining or pleasant fashion;
The play amused the ladies


Withdraw (money) and move into a different location, often secretly and with dishonest intentions

Common Curiosities

What does it mean to avert a crisis?

To prevent or avoid a potential crisis through proactive measures.

How can one divert attention from a topic?

By introducing a new topic or engaging in a different activity to change the focus of conversation or thought.

How does one avert their gaze?

By deliberately looking away from something to avoid seeing it.

Is averting always about avoiding negative outcomes?

Yes, averting typically involves actions taken to prevent undesirable situations or consequences.

Can averting be used in terms of physical direction?

It's less common, but it can be used to imply taking action to avoid a physical obstacle or danger.

What distinguishes avert from prevent?

Avert specifically implies turning away or avoiding, while prevent is more general, encompassing any action that stops something from happening.

Are there situations where averting and diverting can be used interchangeably?

In some contexts, they might seem interchangeable, especially when dealing with abstract concepts like attention, but their nuances usually differentiate their use.

Can diverting be used in a positive context?

Yes, diverting can be positive, such as diverting funds to support a beneficial project or diverting attention to a more enjoyable activity.

Is diverting always intentional?

Diverting is usually a deliberate action, but it can also happen as a result of circumstances beyond one's control, such as a natural diversion of a river.

How can one effectively divert a conversation?

By subtly introducing a new topic or asking questions about a different subject to shift the dialogue's direction.

What is an example of diverting resources?

Redirecting budget allocations from one department to another to address urgent needs.

Can diverting involve emotions?

Yes, diverting can involve shifting emotional focus, such as diverting one's feelings from sadness to something more uplifting.

Is averting a disaster the same as solving it?

Averting a disaster means preventing it from happening in the first place, not necessarily solving an existing problem.

Can diverting lead to negative outcomes?

While diverting is often strategic or beneficial, it can lead to negative outcomes if it causes neglect of important issues or inefficient use of resources.

What role does timing play in averting vs. diverting?

Timing is crucial in averting, as it often involves preemptive actions, whereas diverting can be more flexible, depending on the situation's demands.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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