Definition of navigate in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈnavɪɡeɪt/


1 [no object] Plan and direct the course of a ship, aircraft, or other form of transport, 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.
plot a route/course;
Nautical  helm
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: 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 planning a route and map reading: 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 Computing Move around a website, the Internet, etc. [with adverbial of direction]: I used a browser to navigate around the Web [with object]: software used to navigate the Internet
More example sentences
  • When you navigate to a website, your browser looks for a file named index.htm.
  • Since launching in 2000, Eyetools had built a thriving consulting business by helping clients understand exactly how Internet users react when navigating a website.
  • Make it easy for your viewers to navigate around your website by putting navigation links on all of your pages.
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 skilfully navigated a 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, cruise, travel/journey/voyage across/over;
cross, traverse, negotiate
2.1 [no object] (Of a ship or boat) sail; proceed: [with adverbial of direction]: we sailed out while navigating around large 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.
2.2Guide (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.
steer, pilot;
guide, manoeuvre, direct, handle, drive;
skipper, captain;
Nautical  con, helm
2.3 informal Guide or steer (someone): Ted was navigating her towards the other end of the room
More example sentences
  • One of the girls had been to New York before, and fairly expertly navigated us to a tiny gay piano bar set in a tiny triangular building created by the intersection of grid lines and old Indian trails.
  • Graham had navigated us through to Central London with complete accuracy and even the Hangar Lane Gyratory System had presented no problem.
  • You gonna see how I'm gonna navigate you through the journey.


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

Line breaks: navi|gate

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