Veering Off: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
February 27, 2024

"Veering off" means to change direction suddenly or to deviate from a set course or topic. It's often used to describe a physical movement, like a car veering off the road, but it can also be applied metaphorically, such as a conversation veering off into an unrelated subject. This phrase implies a departure from an intended path or plan, whether literally or figuratively.

In short:

  • It signifies a sudden change in direction or topic.
  • It is used both in physical contexts (like driving) and metaphorical contexts (like discussions).

What Does "Veering Off" Mean?

"Veering off" is a phrase used to describe a sudden change or shift in direction or focus. It implies an unexpected or unplanned deviation from a previously determined path or subject. In physical terms, it might refer to a vehicle or person abruptly changing direction. Metaphorically, it could describe a conversation or line of thought that suddenly changes to a different topic. The phrase suggests a departure from what was anticipated or intended, often conveying a sense of unpredictability or disruption.

More about the phrase's meaning:

  • Indicates a deviation from a planned or expected course.
  • It can imply a loss of control or intention, especially in physical movement.
  • In discussions, it often suggests moving away from the main topic to a tangential or unrelated subject.
  • It may be used to describe a change in someone's behavior or approach.
  • It often conveys a sense of spontaneity or unpredictability.

Where Does "Veering Off" Come From?

The phrase "veering off" originates from the word "veer," which means to change direction, especially suddenly. "Veer" itself is derived from the Old French word "virer," meaning 'to turn.' The use of "veering off" in English has been common for several centuries and is applied both in literal and figurative contexts.

10 Examples of "Veering Off" in Sentences

Here are ten examples to illustrate the use of "veering off":

  • He’s been veering off ever since the accident.
  • During the meeting, the discussion veered off into personal anecdotes.
  • I must prepare for the presentation, so I can’t afford to veer off.
  • Their plan veered off course when unexpected challenges arose.
  • Does it bug you when people start veering off-topic during important discussions?
  • While lecturing, the professor often veers off into interesting tangents.
  • In fairness, it was the other way around; the storm was veering off, sparing our town.
  • Her career veered off into a new direction after that project.
  • She was pacing around nervously, veering off the path.
  • The narrative of the book veers off into fantasy halfway through.

Examples of "Veering Off" in Pop Culture

The phrase "veering off" is frequently used in pop culture, often to describe sudden changes in plot or character behavior.

Pop culture examples:

  • Kevin Cromley explores his journey towards independence in "Veering Off: My Search for Freedom," detailing his personal experiences and the lessons he learned.
  • In "Veering off Course (The Navigation Quartet Book 1)," Chris Cheek crafts a narrative about unexpected paths and the challenges of navigating through life's unpredictable currents.
  • "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)" features a scene where the command "Veer off!" highlights a pivotal moment of action and decision-making on the high seas.
  • The song "California Song" by The Mountain Goats lyrically paints a vivid picture of the night sky, mentioning, "I know you can see Venus rising and veering off to the right," invoking a sense of wonder and cosmic contemplation.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Veering Off"

Alternative phrases with similar meanings:

  • Straying
  • Deviating
  • Drifting
  • Diverging
  • Wandering
  • Swerving
  • Branching off
  • Turning aside
  • Going off course
  • Departing

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Veering Off":

  • What does "veering off" mean?

"Veering off" refers to the act of changing direction suddenly or deviating from a planned course or topic, either physically or metaphorically.

  • Is "veering off" always unintentional?

Not always. While it often implies an unplanned change, it can also be a deliberate choice.

  • Can "veering off" be positive?

Yes, sometimes veering off can lead to positive outcomes, like discovering something new or gaining a different perspective.

  • Is the phrase "veering off" formal or informal?

It's neutral and can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

  • How is "veering off" used in navigation?

In navigation, it refers to a vessel or vehicle deviating from its set course.

  • Can "veering off" apply to conversations?

Yes, it's often used to describe conversations that shift to a different, often unrelated topic.

  • What is a synonym for "veering off" in driving?

A synonym in driving would be "swerving.

  • Can "veering off" be used in a metaphorical sense?

Yes, it's frequently used metaphorically to describe a change in topic, behavior, or plans.

  • Is "veering off" a recent addition to the English language?

No, it has been in use for several centuries, evolving from the word "veer."

  • Does "veering off" imply a return to the original path?

Not necessarily. The phrase doesn't specify whether the original course will be resumed.

Final Thoughts About "Veering Off"

The phrase "veering off" is a versatile expression used to describe sudden changes in direction or topic, both literally and figuratively. It's applicable in various contexts, from navigation and driving to conversations and life paths, often conveying a sense of unpredictability and spontaneity.

To recap:

  • It is useful for describing both physical and metaphorical changes in direction.
  • It can imply both unplanned and deliberate deviations.
  • Neutral in tone, suitable for formal and informal use.
  • Reflects the dynamic nature of discussions, plans, and paths in life.

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