Definition of navigate in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈnavəˌɡāt/


1 [no object] Plan and direct the route or course of a ship, aircraft, or other form of transportation, especially by using instruments or maps: they navigated by the stars
More example sentences
  • Early on sailors navigated by the stars at night and the north star became the symbol for finding ones way home.
  • They navigated by following the flight pattern of gannets and plied the oarsmen with whisky so when they arrived ‘there was scarce one of our crew able to manage cable or anchor’.
  • When human mariners and lunar astronauts navigated by dead reckoning they used charts, tables, various measuring instruments, and a considerable amount of mathematics.
1.1 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Travel on a desired course after planning a route: he taught them how to navigate across the oceans
More example sentences
  • We finished the preliminary Pensacola-hospital route by navigating to a nearby training airfield.
  • This system permits the operator to navigate along pipeline planned routes and log the GPS coordinates of the aircraft's trajectory.
  • Motorists have to navigate between potholes when using either routes and the surface of the roadway has disintegrated in places.
1.2(Of an animal) find its way, especially over a long distance: whales use their own inbuilt sonar system to navigate
More example sentences
  • Families witness animals enduring an extreme climate, such as deer navigating through three feet of snow.
  • The birds navigate with sound waves bounced off walls and crevices, so the air is filled with the clicks of flyers along with the peeps of the chicks.
  • The evidence that this particular creature navigates by dead reckoning comes from some painstaking research carried out by R. Wehner and M. V. Srinivasan in 1980-81.
1.3(Of a passenger in a vehicle) assist the driver by reading the map and planning a route: we’ll go in my car—you can navigate
More example sentences
  • Until this year his co-driver was his sister, but she has vacated the passenger's seat for Robert Reid, who navigated for ex-world champion Richard Burns.
  • I speak as a man who can get lost in his own living room, a driver who for years depended on his then wife to navigate on every trip we took.
  • Chris went on to navigate for a variety of other drivers including Peter Banham on the East African Safari.
map-read, give directions, plan the route
1.4(Of a ship or boat) sail; proceed: [with adverbial of direction]: we sailed out surrounded by loose ice while navigating around larger grounded icebergs
More example sentences
  • The henchmen had finished unloading the drugs, so the boat navigated off into the darkness once again.
  • It is said there are water plants grow so thickly upon the river further upstream, that no boat can navigate through it.
  • The slipway is seen as a serious hazard to vessels navigating in the East Basin.
2 [with object] Sail or travel over (a stretch of water or terrain), especially carefully or with difficulty: ships had been lost while navigating the narrows the drivers skillfully navigated a twisting and muddy course
More example sentences
  • To Deakin's knowledge, no one else has succeeded in navigating a stretch of water classed by the Royal Navy as ‘unnavigable’.
  • I simply do not have confidence in him to navigate the waters ahead skilfully enough to avoid or survive the darkening clouds on the horizon.
  • Has anyone been able to successfully navigate these waters?
sail across/over, sail, travel/journey/voyage across/over, cross, traverse, negotiate, pass
2.1Guide (a vessel or vehicle) over a specified route or terrain: she navigated the car safely through the traffic
More example sentences
  • When introduced, the limits will only apply to recreational mariners when their vessel is under way and then only to those who are navigating the vessel.
  • The members of HPL went on strike until their contract ran out and the new service now navigates vessels on the Humber.
  • It is planning to withdraw the pilots' authorisation to navigate vessels in the estuary on January 27 when their working contracts run out.
2.2 [no object] Computing Move from one accessible page, section, or view of a file or website to another: the new layout makes it easier to navigate through their atlas of world maps
More example sentences
  • The more I navigated the site, the more taken I became with the overall professionalism.
  • Instead of having to navigate a generic intranet site for your R&D group, you can create links and sign up for updates that relate only to those five projects.
  • Ask your grandmother (or someone who is not familiar with the Web) to navigate your site.


Late 16th century (in the sense 'travel in a ship'): from Latin navigat- 'sailed', from the verb navigare, from navis 'ship' + agere 'drive'.

Words that rhyme with navigate


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: nav·i·gate

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.