deviate/depart

GandalfMB

Senior Member
Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
Hello,
What do you think is the difference between them in the sentences below:
- You must not depart/deviate from the agreed route.
- The river departs/deviates from its original course two miles downstream.
- The managers didn't want to deviate/depart from the approach that's worked well for them in the past.
- The bus had to deviate/depart from its usual route because of a road closure.

I think that "deviate" conveys the idea of doing something differently (from what's normally expected). I think I'd use depart in all three. What do you think is the difference between them and what would you use?

Thank you
 
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  • Rhye

    Senior Member
    English - American
    "Deviate" can mean "doing something differently from what's normally expected", but it can also mean...

    1. to turn aside, as from a route, way, course, etc

    And actually the reason "depart" fits at all is because of this secondary definition:

    2. to diverge or deviate (usually fol. by from):

    So actually I think "deviate" is the more prudent choice here, but of course if one is included in the definition of the other then you can use either according to your own preference.
     

    Ddeckys

    Member
    English - United States
    The words are very similar, in each of those situations you could use ether word. Personally I would use deviate for all of them as well.

    Here is one situations where only one of the words work.
    "I am going to depart from my house" is correct
    "I am going to deviate from my house" does not really make sense
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Thank you both. I think the second meaning of depart might actually be "deviate", but wouldn't it be a little odd to speak of a flight departing from its course? The flight departed at 10 AM and departed from its course at 1 PM. Just for the sake of avoiding repetition. Do you think that one could also "deviate from his plan/s"? I usually see "depart" used in that collocation, but since it's second meaning is deviate, why not?
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Given that the most common use of "depart" is for the opposite of "arrive", I'd prefer "deviate" in all your examples, Gandalf. And I'd definitely avoid "depart" (meaning "deviate") in any sentence concerning travel along a route or course, because of the potential confusion with the original point of departure. For me that would be the case in your first, second and fourth sentences, as well as in the flight example.
    Do you think that one could also "deviate from his plan/s"?
    Yes, definitely.

    Ws
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Given that the most common use of "depart" is for the opposite of "arrive", I'd prefer "deviate" in all your examples, Gandalf. And I'd definitely avoid "depart" (meaning "deviate") in any sentence concerning travel along a route or course, because of the potential confusion with the original point of departure. For me that would be the case in your first, second and fourth sentences, as well as in the flight example.
    Yes, definitely.

    Ws

    I had to ask, Ws. The WR dictionary also defines depart as "deviate/diverge". That caused the confusion. I guess it's better to ask and learn the real deal. :)
     
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    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    The WR dictionary also defines depart as "deviate/diverge".
    That's a perfectly valid definition, of course. But note the examples given:
    - The new method departs from the old in several respects. (Random House)
    - To depart from normal procedure (Collins)

    There, depart from is used in the context of a method or a procedure, not of a physical route or course. As is so often the case with dictionary definitions when there are several meanings, a particular definition might be used only (or usually) in certain contexts.

    Ws
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    That's a perfectly valid definition, of course. But note the examples given:
    - The new method departs from the old in several respects. (Random House)
    - To depart from normal procedure (Collins)

    There, depart from is used in the context of a method or a procedure, not of a physical route or course. As is so often the case with dictionary definitions when there are several meanings, a particular definition might be used only (or usually) in certain contexts.

    Ws
    Still, deviate would sound better in these contexts (procedure/method), wouldn't it?
    Thank you, Ws.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    For me, both 'deviate' and 'depart' would sound OK in those particular examples — but now we're really down to personal preference.

    I think I might get a slightly different impression from the two words (but only very slightly). 'Depart from the normal procedure' sounds rather as though the normal procedure is abandoned, and a new procedure is followed. 'Deviate from the normal procedure' might tend to mean there are certain differences (deviations) but that the main line of the normal procedure may still be followed. But those are only nuances that I might think about when deciding which word to use myself (and then only if I thought hard about it). I wouldn't assume that another speaker would necessarily make any such distinction.

    Ws
     

    MickaelV

    Senior Member
    Maybe I am going to write something native speakers will find false or stupid, but I found "depart" to be more often used when the two parts sort of "disconnect" from each other in an all-or-none fashion instead of deviating in a continuous and progressive way.
     

    Rhye

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I don't think the distinction made above should be a part of dictionaries, but I think it's a natural enough conclusion to have. When you think that the first definition of depart, "to leave", and compare it to the less committal deviate "to stray from", it seems natural to think that "depart" would be seen as the stronger of the two and would be used more frequently when great changes take place (in spite of the fact that in the other definition of "depart" they're synonymous.)
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    That's true. That's what I used to do a few years ago. Come to various conclusions which turned out to be wrong. :D That's when I decided to sign up. I personally think it's always better to ask the native speakers. :)
     
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    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Why don't dictionaries make that distinction clear? :mad:
    Probably because it's not a clear and unanimously held distinction, but rather an approximate feeling that some of us have. Note that Mickael, Rhye and I expressed it slightly differently (and others may not necessarily see it that way at all). I think Rhye explained it well.

    Ws
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Probably because it's not a clear and unanimously held distinction, but rather an approximate feeling that some of us have. Note that Mickael, Rhye and I expressed it slightly differently (and others may not necessarily see it that way at all). I think Rhye explained it well.

    Ws
    I just feel like it should have come to me. :) It appears to be something really simple. It's really embarrassing, but... :)
     
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