All parts of speech:

  • (GA) IPA: /tɹəˈvɝs/
  • (RP) IPA: /tɹəˈvɜːs/

    Alternative noun pronunciation:

  • (GA) IPA: /ˈtɹævɚs/
  • (RP) IPA: /ˈtɹævəs/

traverse (plural traverses)

  1. (climbing) A route used in mountaineering, specifically rock climbing, in which the descent occurs by a different route than the ascent.
  2. (surveying) A series of points, with angles and distances measured between, traveled around a subject, usually for use as "control" i.e. angular reference system for later surveying work.
  3. (obsolete) A screen or partition.
    • 1499, John Skelton, The Bowge of Court:
      Than sholde ye see there pressynge in a pace / Of one and other that wolde this lady see, / Whiche sat behynde a traves of sylke fyne, / Of golde of tessew the fynest that myghte be […]
    • At the entrance of the king, / The first traverse was drawn.
  4. Something that thwarts or obstructs.
    He will succeed, as long as there are no unlucky traverses not under his control.
  5. (architecture) A gallery or loft of communication from side to side of a church or other large building.
  6. (legal) A formal denial of some matter of fact alleged by the opposite party in any stage of the pleadings. The technical words introducing a traverse are absque hoc ("without this", i.e. without what follows).
  7. (nautical) The zigzag course or courses made by a ship in passing from one place to another; a compound course.
  8. (geometry) A line lying across a figure or other lines; a transversal.
  9. (military) In trench warfare, a defensive trench built to prevent enfilade.
    • 1994, Stephen R. Wise, Gate of Hell: Campaign for Charleston Harbor, 1863 (page 160)
      At night, when the Federal guns slowed their fire, the men created new traverses and bombproofs.
Related terms Verb

traverse (traverses, present participle traversing; past and past participle traversed)

  1. (transitive) To travel across, often under difficult conditions.
    He will have to traverse the mountain to get to the other side.
  2. (transitive, computing) To visit all parts of; to explore thoroughly.
    to traverse all nodes in a network
  3. To lay in a cross direction; to cross.
    • The parts should be often traversed, or crossed, by the flowing of the folds.
  4. (artillery) To rotate a gun around a vertical axis to bear upon a military target.
    to traverse a cannon
  5. (climbing), To climb or descend a steep hill at a wide angle (relative to the slope).
  6. (engineering, skiing) To (make a cutting, an incline) across the gradients of a sloped face at safe rate.
    the road traversed the face of the ridge as the right-of-way climbed the mountain
    The last run, weary, I traversed the descents in no hurry to reach the lodge.
  7. To act against; to thwart or obstruct.
    • 1764, Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto, II:
      The well-meaning priest suffered him to deceive himself, fully determined to traverse his views, instead of seconding them.
    • 1820, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe; a Romance. [...] In Three Volumes, volume (please specify ), Edinburgh: Printed for Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co. […], OCLC 230694662 ↗:
  8. To pass over and view; to survey carefully.
    • My purpose is to traverse the nature, principles, and properties of this detestable vice — ingratitude.
  9. (carpentry) To plane in a direction across the grain of the wood.
    to traverse a board
  10. (legal) To deny formally.
    • And save the expense of long litigious laws, / Where suits are traversed, and so little won / That he who conquers is but last undone.
  11. (intransitive, fencing) To use the motions of opposition or counteraction.
Translations Translations
  • Russian: обойти́
  • Spanish: recorrer


  1. athwart; across; crosswise


  1. Lying across; being in a direction across something else.
    paths cut with traverse trenches
    • Oak […] being strong in all positions, may be better trusted in cross and traverse work.
    • the ridges of the fallow field traverse

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