When your essay about French cooking starts describing a childhood trip to Disneyland, it's taken a digression — it's strayed from the main topic.

"But I digress" is a phrase often used by people when they realize they're no longer "on-topic." A digression is like a tangent, only digression often describes speech patterns, whereas tangent comes to us from mathematics. Another trick to remembering the meaning of digression is its relationship to the word progression. A progression is a series of ideas which proceeds in the same direction; a digression, logically enough, is an idea that goes off in another direction.

Definitions of digression

n a message that departs from the main subject

aside, divagation, excursus, parenthesis
Type of:
content, message, subject matter, substance
what a communication that is about something is about

n a turning aside (of your course or attention or concern)

“a digression into irrelevant details”
deflection, deflexion, deviation, divagation, diversion
red herring
any diversion intended to distract attention from the main issue
Type of:
turn, turning
the act of changing or reversing the direction of the course

n wandering from the main path of a journey

Type of:
journey, journeying
the act of traveling from one place to another

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